Top US commander in Afghanistan relinquishes post

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Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the caput of U.S. Central Command, speaks astatine a handover of comand ceremony, astatine Resolute Support headquarters, successful Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 12, 2021. The United States is simply a measurement person to ending a 20-year subject beingness that became known arsenic its "forever war," arsenic Taliban insurgents proceed to summation territory crossed the country.

By Kathy GannonThe Associated Press

Mon., July 12, 20213 min. read

Article was updated 9 hrs agone

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The apical U.S. commandant successful Afghanistan relinquished his presumption astatine a ceremonial successful the superior Kabul connected Monday, taking the United States a measurement person to ending its 20-year war. The determination came arsenic Taliban insurgents proceed to summation territory crossed the country.

Another four-star wide volition presume authorization from his U.S.-based station to behaviour imaginable airstrikes successful defence of Afghan authorities forces, astatine slightest until the U.S. withdrawal concludes by Aug. 31.

Gen. Scott Miller served arsenic America’s apical commandant successful Afghanistan since 2018. He handed implicit bid of what has go known arsenic America’s “forever war” successful its waning days to Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the caput of U.S. Central Command. McKenzie volition run from Central Command office successful Tampa, Florida.

During the handover, McKenzie credited Miller with getting U.S. troops location safely and moving retired millions of tons of equipment. That has rankled immoderate Afghan information officials who complained that instrumentality that could person been near for Afghanistan’s information forces was taken.

Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, who attended the handover, said the U.S. and NATO withdrawal has near a vacuum that resulted successful Afghanistan’s nationalist information forces stranded connected the battlefield without supplies, sometimes moving retired of nutrient and ammunition.

In comments aft the ceremony, Mohib said the top interaction of the withdrawal is simply a deficiency of craft to resupply troops. Currently, the authorities is regrouping to retake strategical areas and support its cities against Taliban advances.

The handover took spot successful the heavy fortified Resolute Support office successful the bosom of Kabul astatine a clip of accelerated territorial gains by Taliban insurgents crossed Afghanistan.

Abdullah Abdullah, main of Afghanistan’s National Council for Reconciliation, was successful attendance. He dismissed suggestions the Taliban could signifier a subject takeover.

“I’m worried, of course, erstwhile the Taliban are pushing for a subject solution, that’s a origin of interest ... but they cannot enforce their volition upon the federation militarily,” helium said.

Last month, Abdullah traveled with President Ashraf Ghani to Washington, wherever President Joe Biden assured the leaders the U.S. would proceed its humanitarian support. While helium said determination would nary longer beryllium subject boots connected the ground, the U.S. was not abandoning the country’s information needs.

In a flag-passing ceremony, Miller remembered the U.S. and NATO troops killed successful the astir 20-year warfare arsenic good arsenic the thousands of Afghans who mislaid their lives.

He warned that relentless unit crossed Afghanistan is making a governmental colony progressively difficult. The outgoing commandant said helium has told Taliban officials “it’s important that the subject sides acceptable the conditions for a peaceful and governmental colony successful Afghanistan. ... But we cognize that with that violence, it would beryllium precise hard to execute a governmental settlement.”

The Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces, mostly funded by the United States and NATO, person enactment up absorption successful immoderate parts of the country, but overwhelmingly Afghan authorities troops look to person abandoned the fight.

In caller weeks, the Taliban person gained respective strategical districts, peculiarly on the borders with Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The Taliban power much than a 3rd of Afghanistan’s 421 districts and territory centers. A Taliban assertion that they power 85% of the districts is wide seen arsenic exaggerated.

After Miller’s departure, a two-star admiral based astatine the U.S. Embassy successful Kabul volition oversee the U.S. military’s relation successful securing the American diplomatic beingness successful Kabul, including defending the Kabul airport.

Miller’s departure does not trim the constricted scope of the U.S. subject ngo that remains successful Afghanistan. McKenzie volition presume the authorization held by Miller to behaviour airstrikes successful defence of Afghan authorities forces nether definite circumstances. The conditions nether which specified strikes mightiness beryllium utilized are not clear, nor is it known for however agelong McKenzie volition clasp that authority.

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A woody the U.S. struck with the Taliban successful February 2020 included a committedness from the insurgent question not to onslaught U.S. and NATO troops, a committedness it appears they person mostly kept.

While Washington is not saying however galore troops stay successful Afghanistan, a CENTCOM connection much than a week agone said the withdrawal was 90 percent complete.

The U.S. besides is committed to spending $4.4 cardinal annually to money Afghanistan’s information forces until 2024.

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