Asserting that the United States’ mission in Afghanistan has been accomplished, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the department is focused on “retrograding its people and equipment” out of the country.
US President Joe Biden had in April announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, thus bringing to end the country’s longest war, spanning across two decades.
During a hearing on budget proposal, Austin on Thursday told a Senate Armed Services Committee that the US has retrograded a lot of its capability out of the country.
“We are doing a lot of things over the horizon now. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions are being flown from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, a lot of our combat aircraft missions are being conducted from platforms in the Gulf.
“What we are looking for is the ability to shorten the legs going forward by stationing some capability in neighbouring countries. That is still a work in progress,” he said.
The defence secretary asserted that the retrograde remains on pace to bring back all US troops by September 11.