President Joe Biden will address the nation on the now-completed military withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced late Monday.
Biden’s withdrawal has left more than 200 U.S. citizens stranded in Afghanistan under Taliban control, along with tens of thousands of Afghan allies and refugees. Biden has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the withdrawal, which saw the loss of 13 U.S. service members defending the Kabul airport as well as roughly $83 billion in military equipment provided to the former Afghan army and police forces.
The final U.S. evacuation flight departed the Kabul airport on Monday, ending America’s longest war at nearly 20 years. (RELATED: Pentagon Grilled Over Apparent Lack Of Security Before Terror Attack)
“Every single U.S. service member is now out of Afghanistan,” Commander of the United States Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” Mckenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out, but I think. If would have stayed another ten days, we would not have gotten everybody out that we wanted to get out and there still would have been people who would have been disappointed with that. It’s a tough situation, but I want to emphasize again that simply because we have left, that doesn’t mean the opportunities for both Americans that are in Afghanistan that want to leave and up and Afghans who want to leave, they will not be denied that opportunity.”
Biden vowed in the months and weeks leading up to the Afghanistan withdrawal that the U.S. would not leave any Americans behind, a promise he broke Monday.
The Biden administration struggled to maintain consistent messaging regarding its withdrawal and evacuation efforts in Kabul. Biden himself denied to the media that any of his military leaders recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan long term, despite White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledging that military leaders recommended that in April.
Biden also vowed in an interview with ABC News that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan until every U.S. citizen has been evacuated, a commitment Psaki and national security adviser Jake Sullivan had shied away from. That promise was also broken.