(Editor’s Note: It has long been the editorial position of SOFREP that our continued presence in Afghanistan was untenable from any military and foreign policy standpoint. We welcomed the decision by the Trump administration when it announced in January 2021 that U.S. troops would be leaving the country in the very near future. When the Biden administration came into office it seemed determined to revoke, countermand, or otherwise repeal every action taken by the previous administration.  We were concerned this would also include reversing the Afghanistan withdrawal simply because former President Trump was in favor of it. We support the decision of President Biden to put partisan rancor aside and carry through on this promise made by President Trump. Because it’s just the right thing to do.)

Overriding the protests of Pentagon generals, President Joe Biden has decided that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Picking an auspicious day he stated that all the U.S. will withdraw by September 11. The withdrawal will begin on May 1.

President Biden, speaking to the media on Wednesday, said that keeping troops in Afghanistan past this summer “makes no sense to me.”

“With the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes no sense to me, and our leaders,” Biden added.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result. I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan… I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth,” he added.

The administration was planning on an exit strategy. Nonetheless, many of the Pentagon’s general officers had recommended leaving a small cadre of U.S. troops on the ground. This would be made up primarily of special operations forces and paramilitary advisers. This would help the overworked Afghan commandos and government. Currently, the Afghan government is not ready to handle the security situation on its own and keep the Taliban from overrunning the country

Will It Be a Complete Withdrawal?

A-10s conduct airstrikes in Afghanistan (DoD)

But the president and his senior advisers overruled the Pentagon’s brass. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has publicly said that he fully supports the president’s decision to withdraw. However, at a NATO press conference, he hinted that the U.S. may still maintain a presence there. 

“We will look to continue funding key capabilities, such as the Afghan air force and Special Mission Wing,” Austin said. “And we will seek to continue paying salaries for Afghan security forces.”