Biden On Afghanistan: US Military Operations Will End On 31 August

It comes as the UK announced the ending of its military mission in Afghanistan, with the majority of personnel now withdrawn.

President Joe Biden has said the US military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on 31 August, adding "speed is safety" as the United States seeks to end a war that has lasted nearly 20 years.

"We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build," Mr Biden said in a speech to update his administration's ongoing efforts to wind down the US war in Afghanistan.

"Afghan leaders have to come together and drive toward a future," he added.

Mr Biden also amplified the justification of his decision to end US military operations even as the Taliban make rapid advances in significant swathes of the country.

The effort to further explain his thinking on Afghanistan comes as the administration, in recent days, has repeatedly sought to frame ending the conflict as a decision that Mr Biden made after concluding it is an "unwinnable war" and one that "does not have a military solution".

"How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk?" Mr Biden said to those calling for the US to extend the military operation.

He added: "I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome."

British troops leave Afghanistan with Op Toral drawing to a close 080721 CREDIT MOD
The US president's speech comes as Boris Johnson announced that the British military mission Operation Toral is drawing to a close, with the majority of personnel now home (Picture: MOD).

Mr Biden said he did not trust the Taliban, but trusted the capacity of the Afghan military to defend the government.

Before the president's speech, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden administration officials always anticipated an "uptick" in violence and greater turmoil as the US withdrawal moved forward.

She added that prolonging US military involvement, considering former President Donald Trump had already agreed to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by May 2021, would have led to an escalation of attacks on American troops.

"The question fundamentally facing him was after 20 years was he going to commit more American troops to a civil war in Afghanistan," Ms Psaki said.

Mr Biden's comments came not long after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the ending of the UK Armed Forces' Op Toral mission in Afghanistan, part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission. 

A small number of British military personnel will temporarily remain in Afghanistan to support the transition to a new phase of UK support for the country.

Mr Johnson said the majority of UK personnel have now withdrawn. 

Cover image: File photo of US troops in Afghanistan (Picture: US Department of Defense).