A defense official says President Joe Biden has authorized an additional 1,000 U.S. troops for deployment to Afghanistan.
That raises to roughly 5,000 the number of U.S. troops to ensure what Biden calls an “orderly and safe drawdown” of American and allied personnel. U.S. troops will also help evacuate Afghans who worked with the military during the war, which has been ongoing for nearly 20 years. The Pentagon said earlier that 3,000 troops are being sent to Kabul to join the nearly 1,000 already there. Biden’s statement on Saturday didn’t explain the breakdown of the 5,000 troops he said had been deployed.
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The last-minute decision to re-insert thousands of U.S. troops into Afghanistan reflected the dire state of security as the Taliban seized control of multiple Afghan cities in a few short days. Biden blamed the events unfolding in Afghanistan on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to end the war, which Biden said created a blueprint that put U.S. forces in a difficult spot with an emboldened Taliban challenging the Afghan government.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor — which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 — that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
Initially 1,000 troops were in place to aid with the withdrawal, and administration officials quickly judged that total to be insufficient. An additional contingent of Marines arrived in Kabul as part of a 3,000-troop force intended to secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel and Afghan allies as Taliban insurgents approached the outskirts of the capital. The additional 1,000 troops approved Saturday appeared to bring the total to 5,000.