I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan …Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., CENTCOM commander, on the end of the military mission in Afghanistan.
A few important excerpts of the general's announcement:
- Timing: "The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport this afternoon at 3:29 p.m. East Coast time."
- How Many People: "Since August the 14th, over an 18-day period, U.S. military aircraft have evacuated more than 79,000 civilians from Hamid Karzai International Airport. That includes 6,000 Americans and more than 73,500 third-country nationals and Afghan civilians. This last category includes special immigrant visas, consular staff, at-risk Afghans and their families."
"In total, U.S. and coalition aircraft combine to evacuate more than 123,000 civilians, which were all enabled by U.S. military service members who were securing and operating the airfield."
- Taliban: "We had gone from cooperating on security with a longtime partner and ally to initiating a pragmatic relationship of necessity with a longtime enemy."
- More Difficult Evacuations: "U.S. Special Operations Forces reached out to help break in — bring in more than 1,064 American citizens and 2017 SIVs, or Afghans at risk, and 127 third-country nationals, all via phone calls, vectors and escorting."
"We also conducted three separate helicopter extractions of three distinct groups of civilians, including at least 185 American citizens, and with our German partners, 21 German citizens."
- How Many Are Left?
"… I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that are left — and we think the citizens that were not brought out number in the low — very low hundreds. I believe that we're going to — we're going to be able to get those people out, and I think we're also going to negotiate very hard and very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out.
The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before. The weapons have just shifted, if you will, from the military realm to the diplomatic realm, and the Department of State will now take the lead on it."
- The Sacrifice: "The cost was 2,461 U.S. service members and civilians killed and more than 20,000 who were injured … I would like to offer my personal appreciation to the more than 800,000 service members and 25,000 civilians who have served in Afghanistan, and particularly to the families of those whose loved ones have been lost or wounded."
General McKenzie was the first U.S. official to effectively announce the end of the America's longest war – though questions remain concerning what happens next. The general spoke on August 30, followed by the sec. of state. The president is expected to speak stateside a day later, on August 31.
by Jenna Lee,