The US military has deployed more heavy bombers and fighter jets to protect withdrawing American and coalition troops from Afghanistan, which have so far sustained no direct attacks, the Pentagon said Thursday.
“Less than one week in, the drawdown is going according to plan,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.
Pentagon Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley said that to defend the departing troops, six B-52 long-range bombers and 12 F-18 fighters have been ordered to supply contingency support.
He said that while the Taliban insurgent groups launch between 80 and 120 attacks every day against Afghan government targets since the withdrawal began on May 1 “there have been no attacks against the US and coalition forces.”
Nearly 20 years after invading the country to remove the Taliban from power and pursue Al-Qaeda following the September 11, 2001 attacks, last month US President Joe Biden ordered the final withdrawal of 2,500 US service members and 16,000 civilian contractors.
Biden set a deadline for the pullout of the anniversary this year of the September 11 attacks.
Austin and Milley underscored that although the US continues to work closely with the Afghan security forces, the relationship will shift with the pullout.
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