WASHINGTON — After two decades, America's longest war is finally over.
But the mission in Afghanistan continues.
President Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday vowed to keep trying to bring home any Americans who may remain in the country.
And he defended the decision to bring the war to a close.
"I was not going to extend this forever war, and I wasn't going to extend a forever exit," he said in a televised address to the nation from the White House.
The war cost America 2,448 troops' lives - most recently, the 13 personnel who got killed in last week's ISIS-K suicide bombings.
One day after 82nd Airborne Division Major General Chris Donahue became the last of the more than 800,000 US. troops who fought there over the last 20 years departed, Biden said it was long past time for America to get out.
"I give you my word with all of my heart," he said. "I believe this is the best decision, the wise decision, and the best decision for America."
But, the American Legion - the nation's largest veterans service organization - is especially disappointed in the way Biden ended the war, abruptly, pulling the troops out while leaving behind at least 100 American citizens who wanted to depart.
Legion member and Army veteran Matthew Shuman said this wasn't the best strategy.
"We simply can't leave Americans behind," he said. "We've never done it and we should not start right now."
House Armed Services Committee and Veterans Affairs Committee member Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Virginia, 2nd District) agreed.
"We have left Americans behind," she said. "We've left partners behind. So the mission is not over. We have to continue until we get every person out."
One of the most vocal critics of Biden's Afghanistan strategy has been Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
In a statement following Biden's speech on Tuesday, she said: “Joe Biden abandoned Americans in Afghanistan. Joe Biden is incapable of serving as Commander in Chief – the U.S. and the world are less safe because of him. Joe Biden must resign.”
Over the course of 17 days, the U.S. military successfully evacuated more than 123,000 people from Afghanistan, in what is being called one of the largest airlift operations in world history.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley are set to address the media at the Pentagon about the war's conclusion Wednesday.