Aerial porters work with maintainers to load a UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter into a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during the withdrawl of American forces in Afghanistan, June 16, 2021.
US Army | via Reuters
The U.S. military has withdrawn more than 90% of its troops and equipment from Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.
The update comes about two months ahead of the deadline President Joe Biden had set earlier this year. The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years.
The U.S. military has flown the equivalent of approximately 980 loads of material out of the country by large cargo aircraft, according to an update from U.S. Central Command.
Approximately 17,000 pieces of equipment that will not be left to the Afghan military have also been handed over to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction.
The U.S. has officially handed over seven facilities to the Afghan military.
Last week, the U.S. military quietly departed Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a historic milestone following Biden’s order to withdraw U.S. forces from the country.
On Friday, two U.S. officials told NBC News, on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not yet been officially announced, that the U.S. handed over the airbase to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.
In 2012, at its peak, Bagram saw more than 100,000 U.S. troops pass through. It was the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan.
In April, the White House confirmed that U.S. troops had begun the withdrawal process from Afghanistan and that the Pentagon deployed additional troops and military equipment to protect forces in the region during the withdrawal.
“Potential adversaries should know that if they attack us in our withdrawal, we will defend ourselves, [and] our partners, with all the tools at our disposal,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in April traveling on Air Force One.
“While these actions will initially result in increased forces levels, we remain committed to having all U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021,” she said, adding that the Biden administration is intent on a “safe and responsible” exit from the war-torn country.
The removal of approximately 3,000 U.S. service members coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which spurred America’s entry into lengthy wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.
The removal has stoked worries that Afghanistan could devolve into further bloodshed after U.S. forces leave. The top American general in the country, Austin Miller, has warned that a civil war could happen as the Taliban strengthens its grip.
The Taliban is reportedly in possession of new weapons seized from the Afghan military, including 900 guns, 30 light tactical vehicles and 20 army pickup trucks.