The top US general in Afghanistan stepped down on Monday as one of the last steps in withdrawal.
Since taking office, the Biden administration has planned to remove US forces from the country. According to recent Pentagon reports, that process is 90 percent complete and will be finished by August 31st. General Austin Scott Miller is the longest-serving US commander during America’s 20 year-long military engagement in Afghanistan.
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In a ceremony, Miller handed his duties over to General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the US Central Command. Miller said, “I’m one of the US military officers who’s had the opportunity to speak with the Taliban And I’ve told them … it’s important that the military sides set the conditions for a peaceful and political settlement in Afghanistan. We can all see the violence that’s taking place across the country. But we know that with that violence, what is very difficult to achieve is a political settlement.”
FBA previously reported on the increased presence of the Taliban. “In the past two months, the Taliban have crept closer to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after taking roughly 25 percent of the country’s districts. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid told CNN, ‘The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan was a reason for continuation of fighting in the country.’ He continued, ‘If foreign forces leave Afghanistan, Afghans can decide future issues among themselves. We will step forward for the security of the country and our hope for the peace would increase.’”
The decision to remove troops from Afghanistan was met with criticism. Biden plans to keep 650 troops in the country, primarily to help secure diplomats located at the U.S. Embassy there, but the burden of fending off the Taliban will be the responsibility of Afghanistan’s military leadership. The president recently said, “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build. … It’s up to the Afghans to make decisions about the future of their country.”