U.S. sending 3,000 troops to Kabul for partial embassy evacuation

U.S. sending 3,000 troops to Kabul for partial embassy evacuation

The Pentagon said on Thursday that it would send about 3,000 additional troops to Kabul temporarily to help secure the drawdown of the US embassy personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told a briefing on Thursday.

Kirby said that in addition to sending three infantry battalions — two from the Marine Corps and one from the Army — to the airport, the Pentagon will dispatch 3,500 to 4,000 troops from a combat brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division to Kuwait to act as a reserve force. He said they will be on standby “in case we need even more” than the 3,000 going to Kabul.

Also, about 1,000 Army and Air Force troops, including military police and medical personnel, will be sent to Qatar in coming days to support a State Department effort to accelerate its processing of Special Immigrant Visa applications from Afghans who once worked for the U.S. government and feel threated by the Taliban, Kirby said.

The 3,000 troops who are to arrive at the Kabul airport in the next day or two, Kirby said, are to assist with security at the airport and to help process the departure of embassy personnel — not to get involved in the Afghan government’s war with the Taliban. Biden decided in April to end U.S. military involvement in the war, and the withdrawal is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 31.

The U.S. had already withdrawn most of its troops, but had kept about 650 troops in Afghanistan to support U.S. diplomatic security, including at the airport, The AP reported.

Kirby said the influx of fresh troops does not mean the U.S. is reentering combat with the Taliban. “This is a temporary mission with a narrow focus,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.