President Joe Biden, who is on a scheduled vacation at Camp David, issued a statement Saturday afternoon regarding the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Biden announced he would deploy 5,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to evacuate personnel as the Taliban marches towards Kabul.
"Over our country's 20 years at war in Afghanistan, America has sent its finest young men and women, invested nearly $1 trillion dollars, trained over 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, equipped them with state-of-the-art military equipment, and maintained their air force as part of the longest war in US history," Biden said in the update on the tumultuous withdrawal.
He then defended his withdrawal from Afghanistan that was initiated by former President Donald Trump, "One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me."
"When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces," Biden claimed, placing blame on Trump.
"Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500," Biden continued.
"Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies' forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict," Biden stated. "I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth."
Biden, who is scheduled to be at Camp David until Wednesday, had planned on withdrawing from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, but the speed at which the Taliban has captured provinces and major cities has muddied the waters.
The Taliban has conquered Herat, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif, the country's second, third, and fourth-largest cities. The Taliban control about 24 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, according to the Associated Press.
The Taliban captured all of Logar province on Saturday, which is about 50 miles south of Kabul. Local reports say the radical Islamist group has reached the Char Asyab district, only 7 miles south of the Afghan capital.
Despite the withdrawal and the Taliban rampaging across the Middle Eastern country, Biden warned the fundamentalist Islamic group "that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response."
A U.S. defense official informed Reuters that the 5,000 troops designated to assist in the evacuation include 3,000 troops already approved, 1,000 that are already in Kabul, and 1,000 newly approved troops from the 82nd Airborne.