US Military Says Withdrawal from Afghanistan 90% Complete

Aircrew carry gear C-17 Globemaster III Afghanistan drawdown
Aircrew assigned to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, carry their gear into a C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, April 27, 2021, at Al Udeid AB. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner)

U.S. Central Command says that it has completed more than 90% of the “entire withdrawal process" from Afghanistan, according to a statement released Tuesday.

Central Command says that it has carried almost 1,000 C-17 loads of material out of the country since the process began shortly after President Joe Biden's mid-April announcement that America would be removing the last of its forces.

Biden’s announcement outlined a plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks marking the end of America's longest war.

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"We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago," Biden said in an April 14 speech. "That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021."

At the time of Biden’s announcement, roughly 3,500 troops remained in the country. That was a significantly smaller footprint than the 100,000-plus troops during the early years of the Obama administration.

The U.S. withdrawal process, while speedy, has been criticized as poorly coordinated.

Afghan military officials told the AP that the U.S. left Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night and without notifying the base's new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans' departure more than two hours after they left.

The result, according to New York Times reporting, was a looting of the base by locals. Many of the items that were taken, which range from the popular Rip It energy drink to body armor, ended up for sale in shops only miles from the base.

The U.S. officially has handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, though the statement did not give specific names.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has been gaining ground in the country and now controls roughly a third of all 421 districts and district centers in Afghanistan.

Central Command said it will not give further updates to the withdrawal percentage out of security concerns.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Top US General Says Security in Afghanistan Deteriorating

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