U.S. President Joe Biden gives a speech at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, United States, on Jan.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden, in an address to the nation Tuesday, will mark the end of America’s long war in Afghanistan after the military completed an evacuation mission that removed tens of thousands of people from the Taliban, but killed them when Terrorists killed several US soldiers and many Afghan civilians.
Biden’s speech, scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET, will take place just 11 days before the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that sparked the US intervention in Afghanistan.
On Monday at 3:29 p.m. ET, one minute before midnight, the last C-17 cargo plane carrying US forces left Afghanistan in Kabul, effectively ending America’s 20-year military campaign in the country.
The withdrawal of US forces came after a whopping 17-day humanitarian evacuation of 123,000 people desperate to flee the country now under Taliban rule. Of the total evacuees flown from Kabul, 6,000 were US citizens.
Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the four-star commander of U.S. Central Command, said there had not been any Americans on board the last five flights from Kabul.
“We couldn’t get Americans out, this operation probably ended about 12 hours before we moved out. We’ll continue the operations and would have been ready to get them until the last minute, but none of them made it to the airport,” said McKenzie on Monday via video conference call in Qatar.
McKenzie, who oversees the U.S. military mission in the area, added that there were no evacuees at the airfield when the last C-17 took off. All US soldiers and Afghan troops who helped defend the airport were also blown from the air along with their families on Monday, the general said.
Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken said in a speech on Monday evening that fewer than 200 Americans are still seeking evacuation.
“Our commitment to you and all Americans in Afghanistan and around the world continues. The protection and well-being of Americans abroad remains the most important and long-lasting mission of the State Department,” said the country’s top diplomat on Monday.
“A new chapter of American engagement in Afghanistan has begun. It is one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission has ended. A new diplomatic mission has begun,” said Blinken.
Blinken added that the US has suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul and will move those operations to Doha, Qatar.
“Time to End America’s Longest War”
U.S. Marines from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, RCT 2nd Battalion 8th Marines Echo Co. take cover when a 500 pound bomb explodes on a site after the Marines hosted two days on July 3, 2009 in Main Poshteh, Afghanistan Have taken fire out of position.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images
During an April speech at the White House, Biden called for US combat troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11th.
The removal of approximately 3,000 American soldiers coincides with the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that sparked America’s entry into long wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for the American troops to come home, ”Biden said in his televised address in April from the Treaty Room of the White House, where former President George W. Bush announced military action against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in October 2001.
“I am now the fourth American president to head an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not hand this responsibility over to a fifth,” said Biden, adding that the US mission will be solely devoted to providing assistance would go to Afghanistan and in support of diplomacy.
During his address, the president cited the military service of his own son – Beau Biden, who served in Iraq for a year and later died of cancer in 2015. He is the first president in 40 years to have a child serve in the US military and in a war zone.
The president said the US achieved its goals a decade ago when it killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda – the terrorist group that started the 9/11 attacks. Since then, the US’s reasons for staying in Afghanistan have become unclear as the terrorist threat has spread across the globe, Biden said.
“Given the terrorist threat that now rises in many places, it makes little sense to me and our leaders to deploy and concentrate thousands of troops in just one country, which costs billions each year,” said Biden. “We cannot continue the cycle of expanding or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan in order to create ideal conditions for withdrawal and expect a different outcome.”
U.S. Marines from Charlie 1/1 of the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) fill sandbags around their light mortar position at the front of a U.S. Marine Corps base, near a cardboard sign reminding everyone that Taliban forces are everywhere and anywhere in the south could be Afghanistan December 1st, 2001.
Jim Hollander | Reuters
Biden added that his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was coordinated with allies and coalition partners.
NATO secretary Jens Stoltenberg said from the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels that the withdrawal would be “orderly, coordinated and deliberate.”
“We went to Afghanistan together, we adjusted our stance together and we all agree that we should leave together,” said Stoltenberg.
The NATO mission in Afghanistan was launched after the alliance left after the 9/11 attacks.
The US and NATO launched their military campaign in the center of Afghanistan and the Pentagon in October 2001, weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Since then, around 2,500 US soldiers have died in the conflict, which also killed more than 100,000 Afghan soldiers, police officers and civilians. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost US taxpayers more than $ 1.57 trillion since September 11, 2001, according to a Department of Defense report.
Now the Taliban are back in power.
breathtaking Taliban advances
Taliban fighters sit over a vehicle on a street in Laghman province on August 15, 2021.
AFP | Getty Images
Shortly after his April address, Biden updated the schedule for the Pentagon’s massive task of removing soldiers and equipment from Afghanistan for August 31.
As the US and coalition forces accelerated their retreat, the Taliban made rapid strides on the battlefield, despite being vastly outnumbered by the Afghan military. In one weekend, the Taliban quickly captured five provincial capitals in Afghanistan, three in one day alone.
The Taliban occupied Bagram Air Force Base on August 15, a development that came less than two months after the US military handed over the once steadfast air base to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.
In 2012, at its peak, Bagram looked through more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers. It was the largest US military facility in Afghanistan.
As the Taliban approached the capital, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and western nations rushed to evacuate embassies amid a deteriorating security situation.
On August 15, the Taliban invaded Kabul and captured the presidential palace, marking the collapse of the US-NATO-backed Afghan government.
After the Taliban came to power, Biden defended his decision to withdraw US forces.
“I stand completely behind my decision. After 20 years I have learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw the US armed forces,” Biden told the Taliban one day after the fall of Afghanistan.
“American troops cannot and should not fight in a war and die in a war that the Afghan armed forces are unwilling to wage for themselves,” Biden said. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We couldn’t give them the will to fight for that future,” he added.
Biden ordered thousands of US soldiers to be sent to Kabul to help evacuate US embassy personnel and secure the perimeter of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Thousands of Afghans rushed to the airport tarmac to flee Taliban rule.
Western forces carried out an immense humanitarian evacuation mission of Afghan nationals and civilians from third countries, a logistical masterpiece that spanned the globe and was pushed to its limits with looming security threats.
On August 26, an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber detonated an explosive outside the gates of the airport, killing 13 US soldiers and more than 100 Afghans.
The last US casualties of America’s longest war
U.S. Soldiers assigned to Joint Task Force-Crisis Response are pallbearers for soldiers killed in operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Aug. 27. US soldiers support the State Department in a non-combatant evacuation in Afghanistan.
1st Lt. Mark Andries | U.S. Marine Corps photo
The Pentagon on Saturday released the names of the 13 US soldiers who were killed in the suicide attack on Kabul airport. The attack, which is being investigated, killed 11 Marines, one Marine and one Army soldier.
On Sunday, the President and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Dover Air Force Base to meet privately with the families of the fallen before watching the graceful handover of American flag-draped coffins from a C-17 military cargo plane to a vehicle .
A dignified transfer is a solemn process in which the remains of fallen soldiers are transported from an airplane to a waiting vehicle. It is carried out for every U.S. soldier killed in action.
The remains of the soldiers were flown from Kabul to Kuwait and then to Germany before arriving in Dover.
In this U.S. Air Force image, flag-draped transfer cases line the interior of a transport aircraft prior to a graceful transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The fallen soldiers were killed while assisting evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Jason Minto | US Air Force
The fallen include:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt.Din T. Hoover, 31, from Salt Lake City, Utah
Marine Corps Sgt.Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, from Lawrence, Massachusetts
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, from Sacramento, California
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, from Indio, California
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, from Rio Bravo, Texas
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, from St. Charles, Missouri
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, from Rancho Cucamonga, California
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, from Berlin Heights, Ohio
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee
On Sunday, Biden took part in a dignified transfer for the first time since taking office.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley also attended the dignified transfer, along with chiefs of service for the US Marine Corps, the Army and the Navy.