WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday the U.S. had completed efforts to evacuate its remaining civilians and troops from Afghanistan, effectively ending the longest war in American history.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our mission in Afghanistan,” Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters in a virtual briefing. “The last C-17 took off at 3:29 pm.”
The departure of the last U.S. plane from Afghanistan capped a bloody and chaotic end to the conflict. In the war’s final weeks, fighting and terror attacks amid the scramble to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghans left 13 service members and hundreds of civilians dead. The U.S. is not expected to have any diplomatic or military presence in the country after this point, officials said.
McKenzie said more than 6,000 Americans were evacuated representing the “vast majority of those who wanted to leave at this time.” He said the number of remaining Americans is in the “very low hundreds.”
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” McKenzie said. “But I think if we’d stayed another 10 days really, we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out that we wanted to get out and there still would have been people who would have been disappointed. It’s a it’s a tough situation.”
A White House official said Monday that since the Taliban took control of Kabul in mid-August, the U.S. had evacuated and facilitated the evacuation of approximately 116,700 people. Since the end of July, the U.S. has relocated approximately 122,300 people, the official said. About 1,500 Afghans were evacuated from the country over the last 24 hours and every service members is now out of the country, McKenzie said.
A State Department memo obtained by NBC News Sunday said that the agency had begun evacuating remaining diplomatic workers on two planes carrying U.S. government employees, and secured all locally employed U.S. Embassy staff members, processing the last three buses and evacuating 2,800 employees and family members, according to the cable.