The US is sending about 3,000 troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate some personnel from the US embassy in Kabul as the Taliban is making rapid gains across the country.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US is sending three infantry battalions that are due to arrive at the airport in Kabul within 48 hours. Additionally, an entire infantry brigade combat team is being sent to Kuwait to be put on stand by that could also be deployed to Afghanistan, and 1,000 troops are being deployed to Qatar to process visas for Afghan interpreters who worked for the US. In total, the US is deploying 8,000 troops to the Gulf and Afghanistan.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US would be “further reducing our civilian footprint in Kabul” but insisted that the embassy was not closing. He said there will be a “drawdown” of diplomatic personnel, but did not specify how many people are expected to leave. There are about 4,000 civilian personnel at the embassy, including 1,400 US citizens.
A new US intelligence assessment predicts Kabul could fall to the Taliban within 30 to 90 days, much quicker than what the US initially predicted in June. US officials told The New York Times that the Biden administration is preparing for a possible collapse of the Afghan government within 30 days.
The US embassy in Kabul issued a warning to US citizens in Afghanistan on Thursday to leave the country immediately. “Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul,” a notice on the embassy’s website said.
The US had plans to keep about 650 troops at the embassy in Kabul after President Biden’s August 31st withdrawal deadline, and the Pentagon has established a military command structure based out of the facility. But with the Taliban gaining ground faster than expected, the US might have to give up its plan to keep a military presence in the country.
The US has stepped up airstrikes in recent weeks, but it has done little to slow the Taliban advances. The US is now bombing equipment that it gave to the Afghan government that is being seized by the Taliban.