2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan

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2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan
Part of the Afghanistan war
Date1 May – present
(1 week and 1 day)
Result To be determined
 United States
Resolute Support Mission
Afghanistan Taliban
Commanders and leaders
United States Joe Biden
United States Lloyd Austin
United States Austin S. Miller
Afghanistan Abdul Ghani Baradar
Afghanistan Hibatullah Akhundzada

All United States combat forces are scheduled to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021.[1] U.S. forces invaded the country in 2001 following the September 11 attacks, with the resulting war becoming the United States' longest military engagement.

On 29 February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement titled the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan[2] with provisions including the withdrawal of all regular American and NATO troops from Afghanistan, a Taliban pledge to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control, and talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.[3] The deal was supported by Pakistan, Russia, and China.[4]

The Trump administration agreed to an initial reduction of its force level from 13,000 to 8,600 by July 2020, followed by a full withdrawal by 1 May 2021 if the Taliban keeps its commitments.[5] The Biden administration announced in April 2021 that it would continue the withdrawal, with an expected completion date by 11 September 2021.[6]

Previous efforts[edit]

In 2011, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.[1][7][8] Though significant numbers of U.S. troops were withdrawn by 2014 and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had concluded, 9,800 American soldiers remained deployed inside of Afghanistan as a part of NATO's subsequent Resolute Support Mission (RSM).[citation needed]


U.S. airmen board a C-17 Globemaster III at Al Udeid Air Base during the withdrawal, 27 April 2021

The Trump administration completed its reduction of forces to 2,500 troops in January 2021. This was the lowest number of American soldiers in Afghanistan since 2001.[9] As of January 2021, there are more than seven contractors for each U.S. military service member remaining in Afghanistan, amounting to over 18,000[10] contractors as of January 2021, according to figures from U.S. Central Command.[10]

Incoming president Joe Biden′s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in January 2021 that the United States would review the peace agreement in order to effectively withdraw its remaining 2,500 soldiers from Afghanistan.[11] Joe Biden supported a full withdrawal in 2014[12] but it was initially unclear as to whether he would uphold Trump's May 2021 withdrawal deadline.[13][14][15] In March 2021, news reports stated that President Joe Biden was potentially considering keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until November 2021.[1][16] However, in April 2021, Biden announced he was planning on a full withdrawal of troops by 11 September 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 11 September attacks, four months after the initially planned 1 May deadline.[1][17][18] Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the decision was to focus resources on China and the COVID-19 pandemic.[19] Following withdrawal, the U.S. is reportedly considering options for redeploying troops such as relocating to Navy Ships, countries in the Middle East, or Central Asia countries like Tajikistan.[20]


Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg has said that the Alliance has not made a decision on how to proceed regarding the withdrawal.[21][22]

The United Kingdom is expected to withdraw its remaining 750 Resolute Support Mission troops at the same time as the U.S.[23]

At the Raisina dialogue, Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran, said that the withdrawal was a welcome move, further commenting that foreign troops can not bring peace in Afghanistan. [24] At the same conference, the Foreign Minister of India, S. Jaishankar, said that India has always believed that the peace process should be 'Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled', but cautioned that the future of Afghanistan must not return to the past.[25]

Former President Donald Trump praised Biden's decision to continue the withdrawal as "a wonderful and positive thing to do". However, he also criticized Biden for choosing September 11 as the day of the withdrawal, suggesting that Biden should withdraw earlier, and that September 11 "should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost."[26][27] Several Republican Senators criticized the withdrawal such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Jim Inhofe.[28]

Former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said that there were "consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving"; one of these consequences, she expressed, was a potential collapse of the Afghan Government, resulting in a takeover by the Taliban and a fresh civil war.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Satia, Priya (27 April 2021). Felsenthal, Edward (ed.). "History's Warning for the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan". Time. New York City. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  2. ^ Qazi, Shereena (29 February 2020). "Afghanistan's Taliban, US sign agreement aimed at ending war". Al-Jazeera. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  3. ^ "US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year Afghan war". BBC News. 29 February 2020. Archived from the original on 5 January 2021. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  4. ^ Basu, Nayanima (12 September 2020). "India asserts Afghanistan's 'national sovereignty' as peace talks with Taliban start in Qatar". ThePrint.
  5. ^ Network, Readables (21 March 2020). "U.S.-Taliban Deal: India should Chalk-out a New Strategy".
  6. ^ "Biden plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, missing May deadline, reports say". MSNBC. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  7. ^ DeYoung, Karen (23 June 2012). "Obama's drawdown in Afghanistan will shift tactics in war". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  8. ^ Landler, Mark; Cooper, Helene (22 June 2011). "Obama Will Speed Pullout From War in Afghanistan". New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  9. ^ Ali, Idrees (15 January 2021). "U.S. troops in Afghanistan now down to 2,500, lowest since 2001: Pentagon". Reuters. Retrieved 6 February 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ a b Lawrence, J.P. (19 January 2021). "Troop levels are down, but US says over 18,000 contractors remain in Afghanistan". Stars & Stripes. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Biden administration will review deal with the Taliban: White House". news.yahoo.com. Reuters. 22 January 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Joe Biden: withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan allows military to refocus". the Guardian. 26 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Exclusive: Taliban Warns Biden Going Back on Afghanistan Deal 'Causes Problems'". www.msn.com.
  14. ^ "Biden has no good options on Afghanistan with deadline for troop withdrawal looming". www.msn.com.
  15. ^ Buchanan, Pat (19 February 2021). "Is Biden Prepared to Lose Afghanistan?". Town Hall. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Biden weighs keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan until November". NBC News. 18 March 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Biden to announce withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11". CNN. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Biden plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, missing May deadline, reports say". MSNBC. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  19. ^ "U.S. Focus Shifting to China From Afghanistan, Blinken Says". Bloomberg.com. 18 April 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  20. ^ Salama, Vivian; Lubold, Gordon (8 May 2021). "Afghan Pullout Leaves U.S. Looking for Other Places to Station Its Troops". Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Emmott, Robin; Siebold, Sabine (18 February 2021). "No decision on any NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, Stoltenberg says". Reuters. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  22. ^ Wolfgang, Ben (18 February 2021). "'No final decision:' NATO deadlocked on Afghanistan mission as May 1 deadline looms". The Washington Times.
  23. ^ "UK troops expected to leave Afghanistan by September". BBC News. 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  24. ^ Basu, Nayanima (16 April 2021). "US withdrawal from Afghanistan welcome, foreign forces can't bring peace in this region: Iran". ThePrint. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  25. ^ Apr 17, TNN /; 2021; Ist, 02:03. "Afghanistan's future shouldn't be a return to past: S Jaishankar | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 17 April 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Hoffman, Jason; Cole, Devan. "Trump calls Afghanistan withdrawal 'a wonderful and positive thing to do' and criticizes Biden's timeline". CNN. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  27. ^ Saric, Ivana. "Trump calls Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal "wonderful" and "positive"". Axios. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  28. ^ Teh, Cheryl. "Top GOP hawks come out in full force against an Afghanistan withdrawal by September 11". Business Insider.
  29. ^ "Hillary Clinton warns of 'huge consequences' in Afghan US troop withdrawal". BBC. 3 May 2021. Retrieved 3 May 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)