Airlift Continues Out of Afghanistan as Violence Remains

U.S. C-17s have now flown 104 loads of materiel out of Afghanistan as the retrograde continues, and U.S. Central Command plans to destroy more than 1,800 pieces of equipment.

Between six and 12 percent of the entire retrograde process has been completed since President Joe Biden announced the full withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, CENTCOM said in a May 11 statement.

One base has been handed over to the Afghan National Army, according to CENTCOM. The command will provide updates on the progress every week. Biden has ordered the withdrawal to be complete by Sept. 11, 2021.

Violence, however, remains high. A car bombing that targeted a girls’ school in Kabul on May 9 killed at least 85 people and injured 147, CNN reported.

Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby said May 10 that there have not been attacks affecting U.S. forces in the area and that nothing has happened that would impede the progress on drawing down.

The U.S. military has deployed six B-52s to the region, along with an aircraft carrier, to conduct strikes in defense of U.S., coalition, and Afghan forces if needed. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters last week the military has “adequate resources and capabilities to protect themselves.”

The Defense Department is still determining ways to support Afghan forces following the withdrawal, including possible remote ways to help Afghan Air Force maintainers work on aircraft and new basing agreements with nearby nations to host counter-terrorism forces.