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After 20 years of war, the withdrawal from Afghanistan is now officially over.

by Till Daisd
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The last US service member to leave Afghanistan was Major General Chris Donahue, who is also the commander of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division

The photograph in this article was taken on August 30, 2021, at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and depicts Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, boarding a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. The US mission to evacuate American citizens, Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and vulnerable Afghans came to an end with Maj. Gen. Donahue’s departure from Afghanistan. Ross L. Wilson, the US’s acting ambassador to Afghanistan, was present in addition to Donahue.

According to US Central Command boss Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the final US Air Force (USAF) C-17, with the call sign Moose 85, actually cleared Afghan airspace on August 30. This effectively ended the American military’s presence in Afghanistan and put an end to the nearly 20-year conflict.

The last American military flight out of Afghanistan reportedly departed at 3:29 p.m. Eastern time, or 11:59 p.m. locally, according to Air Force Magazine, McKenzie said.

“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third-country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans,” he said in a press briefing.

The massive evacuation effort, which began following the shockingly quick collapse of the Afghan government, evacuated 123,000 people out of the country in the previous two months, including around 6,000 Americans, according to The New York Times. An early Monday morning statement from a White House official revealed that in the previous 24 hours, about 1,200 individuals had been flown from Kabul.

With last American Soldier boarding a C-17 Afghanistan Withdrawal is Officially Complete after 20 Years of War

According to McKenzie, there were no more evacuees in the airport when US troops boarded the final flight out of Kabul. Less than 200 Americans were still in Afghanistan as of Monday night, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that the US would assist those who wished to depart. He claimed that it was challenging to provide an accurate estimate because some dual citizens are torn between staying in Afghanistan, where they have family and lived there for years, and leaving.

“If an American in Afghanistan tells us they want to stay for now, and in a week or month or year they reach out and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind,’ we will help them leave,” Mr. Blinken said.

The State Department has at various points advised Americans not to enter particular gates near the airport because of security threats (not from the Taliban but from the Islamic State-Khorasan branch).

ISIS-K, as the group is often referred to, carried out a horrific attack on August 26 that left 13 US service members and a large number of Afghans dead outside an airport gate. In response, the US conducted an airstrike that hit a truck carrying explosives in Kabul and killed two ISIS-K planners.

Equipment had to be destroyed as American troops left in order to prevent it from falling into Taliban hands. 73 aircraft were also destroyed in addition to several armored vehicles and Humvees by the military—“most of them were non-mission-capable, to begin with, but certainly they’ll never be able to be flown again,” McKenzie said.

Photo by Jack Hol US Central Command

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