Biden says U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will be complete by Aug. 31

By Tony Bertuca / July 8, 2021 at 3:42 PM

President Biden said today the United States will complete its military withdrawal from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.

Biden, in a speech at the White House, said he refused to commit more American lives to the nearly 20-year conflict.

"I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome," he said.

Biden urged the Afghan government to reach a deal with the Taliban, whose forces have been surging across the country in recent weeks and regaining territory.

"Afghan leaders have to come together and drive toward a future," he said.

The U.S. mission in Afghanistan, Biden said, was to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and deny terrorists groups a safe haven.

"We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build," he said. "The mission was accomplished in that we got Osama bin Laden and terrorism is not emanating from that part of the world."

Biden said he believes it is "highly unlikely" a single group would seize control of Afghanistan on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal, noting the Afghan government has approximately 300,000 troops, while the Taliban has 75,000.

"Just one more year of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for fighting there indefinitely," he said.

The president also stressed U.S. aid to Afghanistan would continue and said efforts are being made to transport interpreters and other Afghans who assisted the U.S. government out of the country. Biden said 2,500 special immigrant visas have been issued to allow those individuals to come to the United States, but only half have come so far.

Biden also said the threat of transnational terrorism has moved beyond Afghanistan.

"We are repositioning our resources and adapting our counterterrorism posture to meet the threats where they are now -- significantly higher in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa," he said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said plans for the redeployment of U.S. troops would be clearer upon completion of a Global Posture Review later this summer.