Announced by US President Joe Biden in April 2021, the withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan began on May 1, 2021, and should continue until September of the same year.
Along with US soldiers, British, Belgian, Turkish, and Australian service members are being evacuated.
“We came in with our allies, and we will depart with our allies, shoulder-to-shoulder, and together we are all going to execute a fully coordinated, synchronized retrograde in good order,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said in a briefing on May 6, 2021.
The retreat, primarily carried out using British and US C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, is taking place as intense fightings between the Taliban insurgents and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) continue.
Thus, the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin decided to deploy additional air assets to protect the withdrawal of coalition soldiers. In total six B-52 strategic bombers and 12 F/A-18 fighter bombers were deployed to “offer contingency support,” Milley explained. The last two B-52s arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on May 4, 2021.
“In addition to that, the SECDEF [Secretary of Defense – ed. note] has extended the Eisenhower carrier strike group,” added Milley. The USS Eisenhower, part of the US Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) Task Force 50, is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea.