The Afghanistan Withdrawal

‘We Will Get You Home’, Biden Tells Americans In Kabul And Vows To Help Afghan Allies

President Biden on Friday redoubled his vow to oversee the safe removal of all Americans from Afghanistan and said he was committed to trying to evacuate Afghans who assisted the U.S.

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WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 16: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the worsening crisis in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House August 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden cut his vacation in Camp David short to address the nation as the Taliban have seized control in Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. is set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.

President Biden said on Friday that his administration is focused on getting Americans out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31, but said that he was also committed to trying to evacuate as many Afghan translators and others who assisted the U.S. government — a goal he said was “equally important, almost” to evacuating Americans.

Taking reporters’ questions for the first time since Aug. 10, Biden said he believed that the U.S. could accomplish its mission of evacuating Americans and others by an Aug. 31 deadline, but that “we’re going to make that judgment as we go.” He also said the U.S. government did not have a solid tally of how many Americans were still in the country.

“Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” he vowed.

Biden made his remarks from the White House East Room — his third public comments this week on the chaos in Afghanistan.

Biden said that he had been in touch with the United States’ global allies to facilitate the safe removal of American citizens, Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, translators and other allies from the fallen capital city. He said that he had had conversations with the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, Germany’s Angel Merkel and Emmanuel Macron of France and that the group had decided to convene a G7 summit next week.

“Since I spoke to you on Monday, we’ve made significant progress,” Biden said.

The president said that as of Friday afternoon, there were some 6,000 American troops on the ground to aid in the evacuation effort and that troops were rapidly moving American assets to safety, including the evacuation of 5,700 people in the last 24 hours. He said 13,000 people have been evacuated since Aug. 14.

Biden said that his administration had also been working with several U.S.-based news organizations to ensure the safe evacuation of 204 of their American employees.

“The United States stands by its commitment that we’ve made to these people,” he said.

On Monday, Biden defended his decision to withdraw troops

His remarks follow a widely criticized Monday briefing, which his critics argued was insensitive to the plight of Afghans seeking to escape Taliban rule. During those remarks, Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and blamed the Afghan military, which the U.S. had trained and armed, for not more forcefully defending themselves against the Taliban takeover.

In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, Biden said, “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.” The president also said in that interview that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan until all American citizens were out, even it that means staying past the previous Aug. 31 deadline.

In recent days, the White House has tried to emphasize the number of people — both Americans and Afghans — who have been successfully evacuated from Kabul.

Still, the scene around Kabul’s airport remains chaotic and dangerous, despite the thousands of U.S. troops now deployed to secure it, and many people trying to flee the country are simply unable to make it to the tarmac to be evacuated.

Jarring video taken on the ground showed hoards of people seeking to make it inside airport, while others ran alongside departing aircraft and attempting to climb aboard.

Graphic footage showed some who had successfully taken hold of the plane’s wings plummeting to their deaths.