Biden should keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan past May deadline, study group says

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U.S. Marines board a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Cpl. Alejandro Pena | U.S. Marine Corps photo

WASHINGTON – A new report requested by Congress calls for the Biden administration to extend the May deadline for the U.S. military troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Study Group, a bipartisan congressionally mandated group under the United States Institute of Peace, recommended keeping U.S. troops in the war-torn country “in order to give the peace process sufficient time to produce an acceptable result.”

The group wrote that the United States has a significant interest in safeguarding Afghanistan from “becoming again a safe haven for terrorists.”

The United States is currently slated to withdraw American service members from the war-torn country by May 2021.

Last February the United States brokered a deal with the Taliban that would usher in a permanent cease-fire and reduce the U.S. military’s footprint from approximately 13,000 to 8,600 by mid-July last year. By May 2021, all foreign forces would leave the war-weary country, according to the deal.

Last week, the Pentagon said that the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan would be contingent on the Taliban’s commitments to uphold a peace deal brokered last year.

There are approximately 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

NATO joined the international security effort in Afghanistan in 2003 and currently has more than 7,000 troops in the country. NATO’s security operation in Afghanistan was launched after the alliance activated its mutual defense clause — known as Article 5 — for the first time in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $1.57 trillion since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a Defense Department report. The war in Afghanistan, which has dragged on to become America’s longest conflict, began 19 years ago and has cost U.S. taxpayers $193 billion, according to the Pentagon.

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