US President Joe Biden has ordered the deployment of 5,000 troops to Afghanistan to ensure an orderly and safe drawdown of American personnel from the war-torn country.
Biden said this after he and Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday held a secure video conference with the national security team to discuss the ongoing efforts to draw down American civilian footprint in Afghanistan, evacuate SIV applicants, and monitor the evolving security situation.
According to a defence official, while 1,000 US troops are already in Afghanistan, another 3,000 were ordered last week.
On Saturday, the President ordered another 1,000 thus bringing the total to 5,000.
Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, and Homeland Security Advisor attended the video conference with Biden and Harris.
“Based on the recommendations of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence teams, I have authorised the deployment of approximately 5,000 US troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” Biden said in a statement.
“We reported the addition of three infantry battalions – roughly 3,000 troops – heading to Kabul to assist with the safe reduction of US civilian personnel: two Marine Corp infantry battalions and one Army infantry battalion. They will be joining the roughly 1,000 American troops already at the airport and the embassy. We had, as you know, not completed our own drawdown there,” the official said.
“The President approved this morning Secretary Austin’s recommendation that we also flow in the lead battalion of the 82nd Airborne Brigade Combat Team – roughly 1,000 troops – to assist with the State Department’s drawdown. The remaining two battalions of that Brigade Combat Team will stage in Kuwait as a ready reserve,” said the official requesting anonymity.
The president, however, ruled out any change in his plans with regard to the withdrawal of all his troops from Afghanistan before September 11.
“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” he said.
Biden said he has ordered armed forces and intelligence community to ensure that US maintains the capability and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan.
He has also directed the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to support Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan leaders as they seek to prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement.
Soon thereafter Secretary of Blinken spoke today with Ghani about developments in Afghanistan.
“They discussed the urgency of ongoing diplomatic and political efforts to reduce the violence,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.
Blinken also emphasised the United States’ commitment to a strong diplomatic and security relationship with the Government of Afghanistan and our continuing support for the people of Afghanistan, Price said.
Biden in his statement said that Blinken will also engage with key regional stakeholders.
“We have conveyed to the Taliban representatives in Doha, via our Combatant Commander, that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response,” said the President.
Biden said he has placed Ambassador Tracey Jacobson in charge of a whole of government effort to process, transport, and relocate Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other Afghan allies.