The White House confirmed that the exit had begun on Thursday night, with deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters on Air Force One that “a drawdown is underway.”
“Potential adversaries should know that if they attack us in our withdrawal, we will defend ourselves, [and] our partners, with all the tools at our disposal,” she said, adding that the American presence would temporarily grow before a final pullout.
Multiple long-range B-52H Stratofortress bombers were made available to CENTCOM, the US military command that covers the Middle East and Central Asia, CNBC reported, while a Navy carrier strike group is also in the region to provide support if needed.
Beyond military involvement, the Biden administration has given itself a tall order in the country, with officials announcing a new plan to rewrite the Afghan constitution, arrange fresh elections and ink a power-sharing deal between the Taliban and the Kabul government last month.
It remains to be seen what will come of the project, as months of bilateral negotiations in Qatar have made little progress in reaching a long-term deal between the two parties.