OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - The United States plans to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Those efforts begin May 1 and are expected to finish by late summer.
President Joe Biden says the decision was made after a lot of careful consideration.
For 20 years, the U.S. military has had involvement overseas in Afghanistan.
“Our diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way, U.S. boots on the ground,” President Biden stated. “We have to change that thinking. American troops shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip between warring parties in other countries.”
The somber date is especially sentimental for an Owensboro family.
21-year-old Army Specialist Brandon Mullins died August 25, 2011, while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was buried in Owensboro Memorial Gardens on September 11.
“We don’t always want to dwell on this really, really sad place because Brandon’s sacrifice was not in vain,” Brandon’s mother Cathy shared. “Their sacrifices were not in vain. We have this freedom because of their sacrifice. "
The conflict has cost the lives of around 2,300 U.S. troops and wounded thousands more.
“We do appreciate that President Biden is acknowledging the war and the hopeful conclusion,” Cathy added. “We do hope there is finality to it. It is bittersweet for us. I keep using that word because it is. We are so proud of our son and the work he did in Afghanistan along with all those. I know there was progress made and I hope that is sustainable.”
Biden is the fourth U.S. president to lead our nation with an American Troop presence in Afghanistan. This includes two Republican and two Democrats presidents.
“When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish,” Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns said. “That’s simply a fact.”
The president says the U.S. will continue to support the Afghanistan government and provide assistance to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
The U.S. will also carry on diplomatic and humanitarian work in the country and support peace talks.
“And the Taliban should know that if they attack us as we draw-down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal,” the president added.
Roughly 2,500 troops are still serving in Afghanistan, which is the lowest number since 2001.
At the height of the war 10 years ago, the U.S. Department of Defense says that number was 98,000.