It’s official: The US has no boots on the ground in Afghanistan

- MILITARY TIMES - AUG 30, 2021 - MEGHANN MYERS -

Vanda Felbab-Brown, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, discusses what next steps need to be conducted to stabilize Afghanistan.

Answering the question of at what point on Aug. 31 the U.S. would pull its last troops out of Afghanistan, the head of U.S. Central Command confirmed Monday 1 a.m. Kabul time that the final C-17 had taken off from Hamid Karzai International Airport. The final flight out of the country took off at 11:59 p.m. Kabul time.


The end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan was marked by one of its deadliest days, as well as a promise from the State Department that Americans still in the country would have an opportunity to evacuate at some point.


“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghan,” Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said during a Pentagon press conference. “The last C-17 lifted off from Hamad Karzai International Airport on Aug. 30, this afternoon, at 3:29pm, East Coast time. And the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan.”


More than 2,400 U.S. troops died supporting the war effort, with more than 20,000 wounded. The financial price tag exceeded $2 trillion and counting, according to the Costs of War Project. That cost will only increase as veterans of this conflict require treatment over the coming decades.


In the end, the U.S. and its partners on the ground were able to evacuate 123,000 civilians from Afghanistan, more than 79,000 of those on U.S. military aircraft alone after the effort kicked into high-gear as the Taliban overran Kabul on Aug. 14.


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