The Pentagon did not have much to say Tuesday about the Biden White House failing its humiliating attempts to grovel in front of the Taliban to prolong the Aug. 31st date for withdrawal and instead refocused on its intention to be out of the nation by the deadline that is only one week away. That plan, now, was approved by President Joe Biden.
Pentagon says number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will go to 'zero' at Aug. 31 deadline. Unclear who will protect last Americans leaving. 'There's no question,' Taliban will help complete evacuation, Kirby says. Months ago, plan was to keep 650 U.S. troops at U.S. Embassy Kabul.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) August 24, 2021
* PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS AGREED WITH PENTAGON RECOMMENDATION TO STICK WITH AUG 31 AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE – ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL@reuters
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) August 24, 2021
Major General Hank Taylor said that 21,600 people had been evacuated in the past 24 hours at a greater pace of one flight every 45 minutes, but General Taylor and Pentagon Media Secretary John Kirby reiterated that their earlier refusals to report an exact amount of Americans who were already evacuated from Afghanistan.
“There has been no change to the timing of the mission to get this done by the close of the month,” Kirby stated. “We are pulling them out every day,” he said about Americans trying to evacuate Kabul.
“Several thousand American citizens were safely evacuated,” Kirby said. “That is as far as I will be able to go right now.”
REPORTER: "Can this administration tell the American people how many Americans it has evacuated from Afghanistan? Why can't you just say the number?"
KIRBY: "We're just going to leave it at several thousand right now." pic.twitter.com/VraDoBH8u9
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 24, 2021
In addition to the concern about how many Americans were evacuated or who are still in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s insistence that they would be out of the nation by the close of August raise more questions. Among them: How long will it take for the United States forces performing the airlift from Kabul’s Airport to finish operations and leave Afghanistan?
“I won’t get into the specifics here,” Kirby said when he was asked when United States forces in Kabul would need to start preparing for departure to meet the Taliban’s Aug. 31st deadline, adding it will take “at least several days” to get personnel and equipment “safely retrograded.”
While “several days” is a nonspecific answer, there are now under seven days remaining so American forces in Kabul will have to start drawing down soon, creating a scenario in which Americans who are stranded in Afghanistan might watch as United States forces pack up and leave them behind.
With only seven days left to complete the extraction and even fewer before U.S. troops have to start packing up, the Pentagon reports there will be “no more operations” to bring Americans stranded behind enemy lines to Kabul’s airport.
Author: Blake Ambrose