As the swiftness with which the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan continues to shock the nation, the Biden administration has been forced, according to the Associated Press, to send a contingent of troops back into the region in the wake of what many view as a devastatingly mismanaged withdrawal from the country.
It was revealed on Friday that the administration would send roughly 3,000 combat troops back into Kabul to help facilitate the removal of diplomats and their dependents in addition to key military assets, as the Taliban continued its rapid offensive gains and drew increasingly closer to the capital, but late on Saturday, President Joe Biden announced that the number would be increased to 5,000, according to Fox News.
On Thursday, the Department of State asserted that the American embassy in Kabul would remain functional, but some saw the decision to return a cadre of troops to the region to aid in evacuation activities as a clear indication of increased doubt as to the Afghan government’s ability to hold on for much longer.
According to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, three infantry battalions will be sent to the airport in Kabul, and another 3,500 to 4,000 troops will be sent to Kuwait to create a reserve force, the AP added.
Furthermore, roughly 1,000 troops from the Army and Air Force will be dispatched to Qatar in support of a State Department initiative to process special visa applications from Afghans who have worked with American forces in the past and who now feel endangered by the Taliban’s seizure of control.
Though the lion’s share of American troops were already withdrawn from Afghanistan, around 650 had remained in order to provide security to diplomats and keep the airport secure, and while a fresh injection of military might is headed back into the area, the Pentagon has reiterated that this does not signify a resumption of combat.
With the Taliban continuing to capture provincial capitals and now rapidly approaching the capital of Kabul, the United Nations has warned of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe.” As CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi put it on Friday, “The U.S.-backed Afghan military has been no match for Taliban fighters who are taking advantage of the vacuum left by the U.S. troop withdrawal.”
The outlet further noted that the Taliban’s offensive has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes over the past few months, seeking safety in Kabul, leaving behind their residences, their belongings, and loved ones, only to end up having to once again face the brutality and repression for which the Islamist insurgents are known.
With President Joe Biden away at Camp David as the disaster unfolds, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) encapsulated the tragic state of affairs, saying, “The White House has no discernible plan other than pleading with the Taliban. The bungled withdrawal, reminiscent of [the] failed withdrawal from Iraq, is an embarrassment to our nation.”