On Wednesday, Germany’s Defense Ministry said a withdrawal from Afghanistan by July 4th was being considered by NATO, which would be over two months earlier than the September 11th deadline set by President Biden.
“The Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul are currently considering whether to shorten the withdrawal period,” said German Defense Ministry spokesman David Helmbold, referring to the NATO coalition. “The 4th of July is now being considered as a pullout date.”
Earlier this month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan on May 1st. Considering an earlier deadline than the US appears to be an attempt to avoid Taliban attacks on NATO troops.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the reason for mulling an earlier withdrawal date “lies particularly in the idea that the shorter the stay in Afghanistan now, the smaller the danger from the Taliban may be.”
Since President Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by pushing back the May 1st withdrawal deadline, the Taliban has warned of consequences and signaled it is prepared to start attacking foreign troops again. Since the agreement was signed in February 2020, no US troops have died in combat in Afghanistan.
NATO has approximately 7,000 troops in Afghanistan. The US officially has 2,500, although some reports say the real number is closer to 3,500. While Biden said he wants to end the war, the US plans to continue supporting the Afghan military and wants to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan. Questions remain over the presence of Pentagon contractors in the country and if Biden plans to leave special forces behind.