The US is deploying additional forces to Afghanistan over fears of Taliban attacks during the withdrawal process. Pentagon officials told CNN that the US is preparing to send about 650 troops to Afghanistan as part of the extra forces.
The officials said the ground troops will mainly come from the US Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and will be deployed with transport planes and aircraft that can provide air support such as AC-130 gunships.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved sending the Rangers last week along with the deployment of long-range B-52 bombers, two of which have already arrived in Afghanistan. He also ordered the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to stay in the Gulf region.
President Biden put US troops at risk of getting attacked by extending the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan since the war started. Last week, the Taliban said it was “too early” to know if they will start attacking US and NATO forces after May 1st.
Biden said he will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. On Sunday, Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, said “local action” to prepare for the withdrawal has started and said the US will gradually hand over military bases to the Afghan government.
While Biden says he plans to leave, the US seems keen to maintain some sort of military presence in Afghanistan. It’s still not clear if contractors working for the Pentagon will leave with US combat troops. The US plans to continue supporting the Afghan military, which is almost entirely reliant on Pentagon contractors to maintain their equipment. US military leaders also want to maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan and are eyeing repositioning forces in neighboring countries.