WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A defense official says President Joe Biden has authorized an additional 1,000 U.S. troops for deployment to Afghanistan.
That raises to roughly 5,000 the number of U.S. troops to ensure what Biden calls an “orderly and safe drawdown” of American and allied personnel. U.S. troops will also help evacuate Afghans who worked with the military during the nearly two-decade war.
The Pentagon said earlier that 3,000 troops are being sent to Kabul to join the nearly 1,000 already there. Biden’s statement on Saturday didn’t explain the breakdown of the 5,000 troops he said had been deployed.
But a defense official tells The Associated Press that the president has approved Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recommendation that the lead battalion of the 82nd Airborne Brigade Combat Team assist in the State Department’s drawdown.
The situation in Afghanistan has worsened in recent days with the Afghan government losing control of many parts of the country.
The statement also says Biden has directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to support Afghan President Asraf Ghani and engage with regional leaders in the pursuit of a political settlement with the Taliban.
The administration also conveyed to Taliban representatives in Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office, that any actions in Afghanistan that harm U.S. personnel will be met by a “swift and strong” military response.
Dan Blakeley, the co-author of “The Twenty Year War “ and a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. He says the violence in Afghanistan weighs heavy on the service members who fought in that war.
“Pulling everybody out of Afghanistan has been obviously very hard. And a lot of people in the veteran community have been taking it very, very personally,” he said. “But I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last couple of days. And what I’d like to say to a lot of the veterans who served in the last 20 years, is that although we’ve pulled out and although, it seems as though the Taliban are taking back over. And it may go back to the way it was pre 9/11, it feels like it’s for nothing. But again, I go back to it’s not, it’s not for nothing. Even if, if one person in Afghanistan felt the safety and security just for a few days, weeks, months, years — whatever it is — it’s something they didn’t have prior to us being there.
From his time in service, he lost 11 friends to war. He says many veterans are now questioning if their service was made in vain.
The decision in recent days to dispatch fresh troops suggested that American forces and their allies were at risk. There was no discussion of rejoining the war, but the number of troops needed for security will depend on decisions about keeping the embassy open and the extent of a Taliban threat to the capital in coming days.
Although the Biden administration is following through with their decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan eventually, Blakeley believes the threat of terrorism returning to Afghanistan is rising to new levels.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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