The Taliban are rapidly moving from taking districts to large population centers. After taking Herat and Ghazni they have now captured Kandahar which is Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the birthplace of the Taliban. The Afghan government may well collapse even before the U.S. withdrawal is finished.

Despite some of the hopeful proclamations that were coming out of Washington recently, the Pentagon is sending 8,000 U.S. troops to the region. Of these, 3,000 (two Army infantry battalions and one Marine) will be sent to Kabul to aid in the “partial evacuation” of the U.S. Embassy personnel. 

They will join the 650 troops that are already in Kabul helping to safeguard the embassy personnel, as well as the remaining 2,500 counter-terrorist and “train-and-assist” advisors to the Afghan military.

But the U.S. isn’t alone.

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) is sending 600 troops to Kabul to aid in withdrawing some of their embassy personnel. Canadian Special Forces will also deploy to the city to assist in the withdrawal of Canadian Embassy personnel.

Afghan troops surrender to the Taliban
Taliban fighters taking the surrender of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops.

“I want to stress that these forces are being deployed to support the orderly and safe reduction of personnel, at the request of the State Department, and to facilitate an accelerated process of working through [special immigrant visa] SIV applicants,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus.”

“Once this mission is over ― I won’t get into specific numbers here ― but we anticipate having less than 1,000 troops on the ground to support the diplomatic mission in Kabul, which we all agree we still want to be able to have,” Kirby added.

Another 1,000 troops will head to Qatar to support and accelerate the process of issuing special immigrant visas for Afghan interpreters.