Washington: Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the U.S. military may slow its withdrawal from Afghanistan due to the progress made by the Taliban insurgents.
Kirby emphasized that the deadline set by President Joe Biden for a complete withdrawal before September still exists, but added that the pace can be adjusted according to the situation.
He told reporters: “The situation in Afghanistan has changed as the Taliban continue to carry out these attacks and attacks on regional centers and the violence that is still too high.”
He said: “If there is a need to change the speed or the scope and scale of retrograde on any day or any week, we want to maintain the flexibility to do so.”
“We are constantly paying attention to this every day: what is the situation on the ground, what capabilities we have, what additional resources do we need to withdraw from Afghanistan, and at what speed.”
“All these decisions are actually made in real time,” he added.
Pentagon officials said last week that Biden ordered the withdrawal of troops in April after fighting Al Qaeda and helping government forces fight the Taliban for nearly two decades, and that it has now completed about half.
At the time of Biden’s order, there were approximately 2,500 US troops and 16,000 contractors in the country, most of whom were US citizens. The Pentagon has handed over several of its key bases to government security forces and has dismantled equipment loaded on hundreds of cargo planes.
Kirby said that the U.S. military continues to support the Afghan army to fight the Taliban.
“As long as we are capable in Afghanistan, we will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan army,” he said.
“But as the retrograde approach is complete, these capabilities will weaken and will no longer be available.”