Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the military would be stepping aside to make way for the diplomatic mission in Afghanistan.
Kirby said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that he did not really see “a military role” going forward, adding that the diplomatic mission was one that American officials had undertaken in the past. “We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time and we do everything we can to try to facilitate safe passage,” he said. (RELATED: ‘We The People Seek Accountability’: Ousted Marine LTC Slams ‘American Leadership,’ Sets Resignation Date For 9/11)
Host Willie Geist began by asking Kirby whether he could put a fine point on the number of Americans who remained in Afghanistan.
Kirby stressed the 6,000 or so who had been successfully evacuated before adding that, while he did not have an exact number, he believed the remaining Americans who wanted to leave numbered in the “low hundreds.”
Geist then pivoted to the ongoing diplomatic mission to get those remaining Americans out, asking, “Do you expect you’ll have a role in getting those people out of the country?”
“We don’t really see a military role right now,” Kirby replied, adding that without boots on the ground, the primary tools at the government’s disposal would be diplomatic in nature.
“So what does that look like? How does diplomacy get those people out of the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan?” Geist pressed.
Kirby pushed back, arguing that it would be no different than getting Americans out of other foreign nations.
“We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time and we do everything we can to try to facilitate safe passage and we have made it clear what our expectations are to the Taliban,” Kirby continued. “And if the Taliban want to govern, and they say they do … we’re going to hold them to their deeds not just words so there are leverage tools we have available to us to hold them to account. But that’s the effort. It’s going to be a whole of government effort but I don’t see a military role at this time.”