The Pentagon announced Thursday it will deploy three infantry battalions, or roughly 3,000 troops, to assist with the reduction of American civilians at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the evacuation of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants from the country.
The battalions are already in the region, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said during a press conference. They will move to the Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul within the next 24-48 hours. Two of the battalions are Marine battalions while the third is an Army battalion. They will join the 650 U.S. troops already in Kabul.
In addition, a joint Army and Air Force support element of around 1,000 personnel will help with the processing of the SIV applicants, Kirby said. The element would move into Qatar in the coming days, he said.
Lastly, an infantry brigade combat team will deploy to Kuwait to be “postured and prepared if needed to provide additional security at the airport,” Kirby added. That brigade combat team would arrive sometime in the next week, he said.
“These forces are being deployed to support the orderly and safe reduction of civilian personnel at the request of the State Department and to help facilitate an accelerated process of working through SIV applicants. This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus,” he said.
The Pentagon cited a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan as the reason for the deployment.
There have been an increasing number of reports from the region of Taliban forces seizing more territory as the Biden administration continues the wind down of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan.
Although the Trump administration began negotiations with the Taliban to withdrawal all U.S. combat troops by May of 2021, former President Donald Trump left office with 2,500 U.S. troops still in the country.
Trump criticized the Biden administration’s withdrawal in a statement Thursday.
“Had our 2020 Presidential Election not been rigged, and if I were now President, the world would find that our withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a conditions-based withdrawal. I personally had discussions with top Taliban leaders whereby they understood what they are doing now would not have been acceptable,” he said.
“It would have been a much different and much more successful withdrawal, and the Taliban understood that better than anyone. What is going on now is not acceptable. It should have been done much better,” he added.
Kirby insisted the Biden administration would still aim to withdraw U.S. combat forces by the end of August.