Ahead of talks between President Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said Afghanistan is “not a winnable war” in response to hawks calling for the troop drawdown to be reversed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) met with Ghani and other Afghan leaders on Thursday. In a statement on the meeting, McConnell called for a “reversal” of President Biden’s withdrawal.
When asked about McConnell’s comments, Psaki said, “The President made a decision — which is consistent with his view that this was not a winnable war — to bring the US troops home after 20 years of fighting this war.”
Later on Friday, Biden met with Ghani and vowed continued support for the Afghan government. “The partnership between Afghanistan and the United States is not ending,” Biden said. “Our troops may be leaving, but support for Afghanistan is not ending.”
President Biden earmarked $3.3 billion in his request for the 2022 Pentagon budget for the Afghan military, a $300 million increase from this year. NATO will also continue funding the Afghan military, and is looking to train Afghan soldiers outside of the country.
While Biden and Psaki say the US is leaving Afghanistan, a US official told The Associated Press on Thursday that Washington wants to leave about 650 troops to guard the US embassy in Kabul. The troops could also support Turkish forces that are expected to stay to secure the Kabul airport.
The issue with Biden’s post-withdrawal plans is that the Taliban are against them, and it could put US troops at risk of being attacked. On Friday, a Taliban spokesman said the group would view a continued US presence after Biden’s September 11th withdrawal deadline as a violation of the Doha agreement.