The last U.S. military planes depart Kabul airport

Technical Sergeant James E. Lotz | Wikimedia

The last U.S. military plane, along with the last of American troops, has departed Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL), Pentagon officials have announced. This marks the end of the United States’ longest war spanning 2 decades.

“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan. The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30, 2021, at 3:29 p.m East Coast time. And the last manned aircraft is now clear of the airspace above Afghanistan,” Marine Corps General Kenneth F. Mackenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, told the press. 

He also added that there are American citizens, likely numbering “in the very low hundreds” that were left behind, but that he believes they may still be able to leave Afghanistan as the State Department would continue working to get them out. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the military-led evacuation, calling the operation heroic, and also stated that the United States diplomatic presence will now shift to Doha, Qatar. 

Before Kabul fell, a number of evacuation flights were underway, flying around 5,600 people out of the country. Within days of Taliban occupation, the United States deployed 6,000 U.S. troops and dozens of C-17 Globemaster III airlifters. 

August 23, 2021, was the peak of the United States’ evacuation when around 21,600 Americans, Afghans, and citizens of allied partners left aboard U.S. and allied military and chartered aircraft. 

In total, more than 122,000 people have been airlifted from Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) since July 2021, including 5,400 Americans, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.   

The 20-year war has cost the United States $2 trillion and over 2,000 U.S. troops killed in action, including 13 from the recent Kabul airport explosions.

 

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Jean Carmela Lim
Journalist[br][br]Jean is a member of AeroTime’s editorial team, working as an aviation writer and based in Manila, Philippines. Previously, she worked in operational aviation roles in Manila, Philippines and Seoul, South Korea before moving to Australia to work in corporate and government travel. In 2012, Jean established her own luxury and adventure travel blog, Holy Smithereens. She is also a contributor for World Travel Market London, one of the biggest annual events in the travel sector. She covers trends and issues in hospitality and luxury travel for a B2B market, interviewing key personalities in the industry.
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