President Biden announced a total of 5,000 troops to be in Afghanistan, “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” he said in a statement Saturday.
His announcement includes troops already on the ground in country, according to a defense official.
On Saturday the President approved the additional direct deployment of a battalion of 1,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne division directly in Kabul, instead of their original standby position in Kuwait.
That decision by Biden will now bring the total number of US troops in Kabul up to 5,000. The Pentagon had previously announced 3,000 troops were on their way, and approximately 1,000 troops had already been in Kabul for some time, the defense official said.
The 82nd Airborne troops redirected to Kabul were originally going to be part of up to 4,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne going to Kuwait on standby, to be used if needed.
The bulk of troops are expected in Kabul by the end of the weekend.
Biden is also announcing a series of actions aimed at deescalating the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, including directing the intel community “to ensure that we will maintain the capability and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan,” tasking Secretary of State Tony Blinken with supporting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, conveying to Taliban representatives in Doha “that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response,” and tasking Ambassador Tracey Jacobson with efforts “to process, transport, and relocate Afghan special immigrant visa applicants and other Afghan allies.”
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor— which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces,” Biden wrote. “Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify the 5,000 US troops includes troops already on the ground in the country.