U.S Marines on Friday, August 13 arrived in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, to help evacuate embassy staff as the Taliban continued its offensive sweep through the country..
The battalions are expected to be fully in place by the end of the weekend, and will be capable of supporting the evacuation of several thousand people a day, both U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals.
In another development, other countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Russia, the UK, France, Netherlands etc have ordered their citizens to leave the country while ordering their Diplomatic staff to return home in fear of the expected advance towards Kabul.
The Taliban captured two of the country’s largest cities in recent days, with the Taliban trying to isolate Kabul before attacking the city in coming weeks, according to Defense Department spokesman, John Kirby.
In response to the security situation, two battalions of Marines and a battalion of Army soldiers started arriving in the capital city on Friday to assist the State Department, Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing in Washington.
Taliban militants captured Kandahar, the second-most populous city in the country, as well as the third-largest city of Herat. The insurgents have now seized at least half of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, taking control of roughly two-thirds of the nation and encircling Kabul, where the U.S. Embassy is preparing to evacuate all but its core diplomatic personnel.
Kirby insisted the U.S. military were not surprised by the Taliban advancements, but noted that the Afghan National Army is better trained and better equipped than the Taliban, thanks to decades of U.S. training and billions of dollars worth of American weapons.
In addition to the deployment of three infantry battalions from the Marines to Kabul, a U.S. infantry brigade will be positioned on standby in Kuwait, Kirby said.
Another 1,000-member unit comprising Army and Air Force personnel will deploy to Qatar to help process special immigrant visas for Afghan nationals who assisted U.S. and NATO troops during the war.
Meanwhile, the State Department has instructed employees in Kabul to begin destroying “sensitive material,” including items featuring embassy logos or the American flag.
A State Department spokesperson revealed that providing burn bins to staff for incinerating sensitive documents was “standard operating procedure” for an embassy “drawdown.”
President Joe Biden, in April announced that all U.S. forces in the region would be withdrawn by Sept. 11.
As the Taliban onslaught continues , the Afghan government security forces have crumpled and many civilians have fled their homes amid the Taliban’s surprisingly swift advance toward the nation’s power center.
However the White House on Friday morning said Biden stands by his decision to end the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after nearly two decades of fighting in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The President is firmly focused on how we can continue to execute an orderly drawdown and protect our men and women serving in Afghanistan,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“You heard him earlier this week: he does not regret his decision,” Psaki said.