Biden says Afghans should “combat for themselves” because the Taliban advance
US President Joe Biden will deliver economic remarks from the White House in Washington, USA on July 19, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Tuesday he did not regret his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, a move that will effectively end America’s longest war.
“Look, we’ve spent over a trillion dollars over twenty years, we’ve trained over 300,000 Afghan armed forces and equipped them with modern equipment,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“Afghan leaders need to come together,” said Biden. “You have to fight for yourself, fight for your nation.”
In April, Biden ordered the full withdrawal of around 3,000 US soldiers from Afghanistan by September 11th.
The Pentagon’s massive task of removing soldiers and equipment from Afghanistan is almost complete, and the U.S. military mission is slated to end on August 31.
When the US pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban made amazing strides on the battlefield, despite being vastly outnumbered by the Afghan military. Over the weekend, the Taliban quickly captured five provincial capitals in Afghanistan, three in one day alone.
Afghans inspect damaged shops after fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, August 8, 2021.
Abdullah Sahil | AP
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that while the Biden administration plans to continue providing air support, the U.S. military cannot do much else.
“We will certainly support from the air where and when possible, but this is not a substitute for the leadership on the ground, it is not a substitute for the political leadership in Kabul, it is not a substitute for the use of the skills and capacities, that we know, “said Kirby said.
Kirby added that while the Pentagon is concerned to see such advances by the Taliban, the Afghan military must now capitalize on years of training from US and NATO coalition forces.
“They have an air force, the Taliban don’t. They have modern weapons and organizational skills, the Taliban don’t. They outnumber the Taliban,” said Kirby. “You have the benefits, and now is the really time to take advantage of those benefits.”
In light of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the State Department is examining ways to downsize the US embassy in Kabul.
“Obviously it’s a challenging security environment and if we were able we were confident and comfortable to have a larger staff presence there we would,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. when asked about the downsizing in Kabul.
“We evaluate the threat environment on a daily basis. The embassy is in regular contact with Washington with the most senior people in this building, who in turn are in regular contact with our colleagues on [National Security Council] at the White House, “Price added.