President Biden will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, effectively winding down the 20-year conflict that started with Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, officials said.
Biden made an announcement about the decision Tuesday and revisited the plans laid out by the Trump administration for a withdrawal by May 1.
Officials said the U.S. is coordinating the withdrawal with NATO allies who contribute a bulk of the troop left in the region. Biden made the clear indication that terrorist organizations including al Qaeda no longer posed a threat and keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan was no longer necessary for combat.
“The President has judged that a conditions-based approach, which is then the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. And so he has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown, will remove its forces from Afghanistan,” a senior official told CNN on Tuesday.
The withdrawal scheduled for Sept. 11 is a hard deadline, and not a target date, officials said.
There’s a sentiment in both parties to end the US involvement in Afghanistan, and even some of Biden’s staunchest GOP critics praised his decision.
“I’m glad the troops are coming home,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “Bringing our troops home should not be taken as a sign that America will be any less vigilant in protecting American lives and those of our allies, but we can do so without a permanent military presence in hostile terrain.”
US officials say there are about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.