Top US commander in Afghanistan steps down as 20-year war nears end
The top commander of US troops in Afghanistan, General Austin Scott Miller, on Monday, relinquished his position during a ceremony in the country’s capital city of Kabul as the US’ two-decade-long war in Afghanistan is nearing its end and the Taliban forces continue to gain more territory. Miller has been the top commander in Afghanistan since his appointment to the role in 2018.
Marine Gen Frank McKenzie, another four-star general, took over from Miller and would operate from the central command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He will assume command and continue the airstrikes in defence of the Afghan forces at least until the US pulls out all its troops by August 31, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
During the flag-passing ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters at the heart of Kabul, Miller remembered the US and Nato troops along with the thousands of Afghan nationals who were killed during the war. He said he told Taliban officials that “it’s important that the military sides set the conditions for a peaceful and political settlement in Afghanistan... But we know that with that violence, it would be very difficult to achieve a political settlement,” the AP further reported.
Hamdullah Mohib, National Security Advisor of Afghanistan, said that the withdrawal of US and Nato troops has left the Afghan forces stranded on the battlefield without resupplies, the AP reported. Mohib also expressed concerns about the lack of aircraft for supporting and resupplying the troops.
Following US President Joe Biden’s earlier announcement that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the Pentagon said that the process is 90 per cent complete. Biden said that it was the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people to decide the future of the country. “Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritising the safety of our troops as they depart,” Biden said on July 8. He said that his government would continue to provide civilian and humanitarian assistance.
The Taliban have claimed that they now control 85% of the country, which has not been verified independently, news agencies reported. The Afghan government has also strongly disputed these claims and rejected another claim that the insurgents now control more than half of the country’s 400 districts.
(With inputs from agencies)