Top US commander in Afghanistan to step down marking symbolic end to war

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The apical US wide successful Afghanistan volition measurement down connected Monday, marking a symbolic extremity to 20 years of American subject engagement – and coming arsenic an ascendant Taliban threatens to topple the cardinal government.

Army General Austin “Scott” Miller, who has overseen the warfare effort for astir 3 years, volition relinquish work successful a ceremonial astatine the apical US subject headquarters.

President Joe Biden said past week that the subject withdrawal helium ordered volition beryllium implicit 31 August, but General Miller’s departure is among the lone pieces left. Virtually each different troops, contractors and instrumentality already person exited, defence officials said connected the information of anonymity due to the fact that of the issue’s sensitivity.

General Miller volition depart Afghanistan arsenic the war’s longest-serving elder US officer. A erstwhile commandant of the elite Delta Force, helium oversaw a tumultuous play that included the Trump administration’s 2020 woody with the Taliban that acceptable the signifier for withdrawal, and the last telephone by Mr Biden successful April to region each troops.

Marine General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the main of US Central Command, arrived successful Kabul connected Monday greeting to presume bid of the remaining mission. He is expected to oversee the small-scale cognition from his office successful Tampa, with a two-star Navy SEAL, Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, starring astir 650 troops tasked with protecting the US Embassy.

General McKenzie told reporters traveling with him that helium believes the Taliban are pursuing a “military victory” implicit the Afghan government, citing its caller battlefield victories successful galore parts of the state and the menace it poses to respective provincial capitals. But helium predicted the militants volition brushwood important absorption successful Kabul, noting however overmuch larger and much analyzable the metropolis of six cardinal radical and its defenses are present than erstwhile the Taliban ruled it successful the 1990s.

“I think, certainly, the provincial capitals are astatine risk, and we’ll spot however that shakes retired implicit the adjacent fewer weeks,” General McKenzie said, speaking aboard a subject craft implicit the Atlantic Ocean. “I deliberation the Afghans are determined to combat precise hard for those provincial capitals.”

General McKenzie assessed that the Taliban are pursuing a “multipronged approach” successful asserting power. If they cannot topple the cardinal government, the wide said, they are apt to “go wherever determination is the slightest resistance” and see a governmental colony with elder Afghan officials.

General McKenzie said helium does not spot immoderate “undue regard” connected Monday’s ceremony. He called his sojourn to Afghanistan a awesome that the United States volition proceed to enactment the Afghan authorities financially and with method assistance from afar.

Still, the wide acknowledged, the extremity of the military’s ngo present marks a important alteration successful the US narration with Afghanistan.

“It won’t beryllium done similar it was done successful the past, and we request to beryllium precise wide astir that,” General McKenzie said.

The accelerated disintegration of information amid the withdrawal has enactment the president connected the defensive. Last week, helium said successful remarks astatine the White House that helium and his advisers anticipated problems but that focusing connected them has been utilized for years arsenic a rationale to widen the subject ngo portion US troops remained successful harm’s way.

“Let maine ask: How galore much - however galore thousands much Americans, daughters and sons - are you consenting to risk?” Mr Biden said. “I volition not nonstop different procreation of Americans to warfare successful Afghanistan with nary tenable anticipation of achieving a antithetic outcome.”

Mr Biden said a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “not inevitable”, however.

Numerous unresolved questions astir the withdrawal person not been afloat addressed yet. They see a committedness to evacuate thousands of interpreters who worked alongside US troops, and are fearful of being targeted by the Taliban.

The Biden medication besides plans to proceed carrying retired airstrikes against the Islamic State and al-Qaida successful Afghanistan arsenic needed. However, without entree to bases there, the subject is expected to alert from installations hours distant successful the Persian Gulf, putting strains and limits connected what US troops tin do. Administration officials are seeking caller agreements with neighboring countries from which to transportation retired the strikes, but to day nary deals person announced.

The military’s departure from Afghanistan, on with the deterioration of information passim the country, besides is expected to degrade the United States’ quality to show events connected the ground.

General McKenzie said that astir of the accusation the US subject gets astir the Taliban comes from Afghan forces, and that successful areas wherever the Taliban person seized control, it volition beryllium much hard to recognize changes arsenic they occur.

“That’s conscionable a information we’re going to person to recognize,” General McKenzie said. “My cognition of what’s going connected successful Afghanistan is not astir what it was 180 days ago.”

The costs of the war, launched successful the aftermath of the 9/11 violent attacks, person been staggering. About 2,400 US troops person been killed successful Afghanistan, with an summation 20,000 wounded, according to Pentagon statistics. Nearly 800,000 work members person rotated done Afghanistan connected duty astatine slightest once, with astir 30,000 of them deploying astatine slightest 5 times each, according to Pentagon information provided by The Washington Post.

Some 47,245 civilians, 66,000 Afghan soldiers and police, and 51,000 absorption fighters besides person been killed, according to a survey released by Brown University this year.

The Washington Post

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