Thousands of U.S. military service members will shift in coming days from evacuating Americans and Afghans to loading the remaining 5,400 U.S. personnel and essential equipment onto the final planes to depart the country ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
While personnel and equipment would get priority in the days ahead as the U.S. and allies evacuate from Hamid Karzai International Airport, the Pentagon said it was committed to evacuating Afghans until operations conclude, without saying when they would end or when the final military withdrawal would commence.
“We will have to reserve some capacity in those last couple of days to prioritize the military footprint leaving because we want to be able to keep it there as long as possible to do the job it is intended to do,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.
Top Biden administration officials braced for the likelihood that many Afghans and others are likely to remain in the country after the last U.S. troops have left.
“They will not be forgotten,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the State Department, adding that the U.S. and its allies would “ensure that those who want to leave Afghanistan after the 31st are able to do so.”
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