WASHINGTON — The Defense Department's top spokesperson, John Kirby, acknowledged a "deteriorating security situation" in Afghanistan, saying: "We are mindful of the Taliban's advances."
Still, the United States military is moving forward with ending its combat mission after nearly 20 years, with the target date for the completion of operations being Aug. 31.
"We had accomplished the mission of not getting attacked from Afghanistan here in the homeland over the last 20 years," Kirby said. "Doesn't mean we're taking our eye off the ball."
Kirby said the U.S. military will continue to maintain what he calls "over the horizon" intelligence on Afghanistan, and will be prepared to act if necessary.
"We already have over the horizon anti-terrorism capabilities at our disposal and it's fairly robust," he said. "We've got a sizeable footprint in the Middle East, and facilities ashore that we can utilize with fixed-wing aircraft, manned and unmanned. As well as a carrier strike group in waters not far from Afghanistan."
Kirby insisted that the U.S. wasn't simply cutting and running. And he said the United States is still fully committed to partnering with the Afghan government.
"It's not like we're clapping hands and walking away," he said. "They're still going to get financial support. The President just pledged, I think, $300 million. We're going to continue working on improving their air force capabilities. So, we're committed."
Around 650 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Afghanistan to provide security for diplomats after the main American military force completes its withdrawal.
At the war's high point in 2011, there were an estimated 98,000 American troops there.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) supports the move.
“After nearly twenty years of war in Afghanistan we have successfully prevented transnational terrorists from planning and launching an attack from the region," Smith said. "Therefore, it is time to withdraw our military forces and thanks to the leadership of President Biden our troops are finally coming home."
But, not everyone thinks the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is a good idea.
The ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) is critical of the decision, calling it, "a catalyst for failure."
"I worry about the potential for future terrorist attacks on American soil and I worry for the future for our Afghan allies," Rogers said.