Transcript for President Joe Biden announces withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan
This is an ABC news special report. Now reporter David Muir. Good afternoon and we're coming on the air at this hour with breaking news involving US troops in Afghanistan president Biden is set to announce the apparent and do America's longest war. The president planning to withdraw the remaining 2500 US troops from Afghanistan by September 11. The twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. More than 2300 US troops killed since this war began more than 40000. Civilian deaths. The cost in financial terms nearly 825. Billion dollars. President Biden is expected to underscore that he is now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. The president now before the podium. Let's listen. Are speaking here today from the Roosevelt. The treaty room in the White House. The same spot where on October of 2001. President George W. Bush informed our nation united states military begun strikes. I'm terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. It was just weeks just weeks after the terrorist attack on our nation that killed 2000. 977. Innocent souls. That turn lower Manhattan into a disaster area. Destroyed part the Pentagon. And may hallowed ground in the field in Shanksville Pennsylvania. And sparked. An American promise. That we would never forget. Went to Afghanistan in 2001 to root out al-Qaeda. Two room and future terrorist attacks against the United States plan from Afghanistan. Our objective was clear. The cause was just. Our NATO allies and partners rally beside us. And I support that military action along weren't overwhelming majority of the members of congress. More than seven years later. In 2008. Weeks before re swore the oath of office President Obama and I were about to swear. President Obama asked me to travel to Afghanistan a report back on the state of the war in Afghanistan. I flew to Afghanistan to decode our valley. A rugged mountainous region on the border of Pakistan. What I saw that trip reinforced my conviction. But only Afghans. Have the right and responsibility lead their country. And then more and analysts American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government. I believe that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place. To ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that. We accomplish that objective. I said mom with others we'd follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell of DB. That's exactly what we did. And we got him. It took us close to ten years to put President Obama. Commitment to in the form. And that's exactly what happened. Osama bin Laden was gone. That was ten years ago. Think about that we delivered justice to bin Laden a decade ago. And we've stayed in Afghanistan for a decade sense. Said Stan. Our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan become increasingly unclear he it has the terrorist threat. There we went to fight a vol. Over the past twenty years the threat has become more dispersed. Metastasized. And around the globe. Fellowship Bob in Somalia. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. On looser in this area. Crisis as tapped in user critic Carol fight. He Syria and Iraq and establish an affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. With the terror threat nominee plays. She's keeping thousands. Of troops ground and in concentrated in just one country. At a cost of billions each year. Makes little sense to me and our leaders. We cannot continue the cycle. Of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan. Hoping to create ideal conditions. For their drawl. And expecting a different result. Are now the fourth United States president. To preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth. After consulting closely with our allies and partners. With a military leaders and intelligence personnel is our diplomats. And our development experts but the congress and the vice president. As well as with mr. Ghani and many others around the world I concluded that his timed it and America's longest war. It's time for American troops to come home. I came to office. I inherited diplomatic agreement. Duly negotiated between the government in the United States in the tolerant line. That all US forces would be out of Afghanistan by may warned 20/20 one. Just three months after my inauguration. That's who we inherited that commitment. Is perhaps not water would have negotiated myself. But it was an agreement made by the United States government. And that means something. So keep you in that agreement with our national interest the United States who began our final withdrawal. Begin on May one of this year. While not conduct a hasty rush to the exit. We'll do it will do it responsibly. Deliberately and safely. And we won't do it. In full coordination and our allies and partners who now have more force in Afghanistan and we do. That's all I want should know is they attack us as we draw down. Won't defend ourselves and our partners from all of the tools at our disposal. Our allies and partners who stood beside a shoulder to shoulder and Afghanistan for almost twenty years. We're deeply grateful for the contributions they've made. To our shared mission. From the sacrifices they've borne. The plan has long man in together. Out together. US troops is rolls forces deployed to our NATO allies. And operational partners. Will be out of Afghanistan before we mark the twentieth anniversary. That heinous attack on September allotment. But. We will not take our eye off the terrorist threat. Will reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities. And the substantial assets in the region to prevent re emergence of terrorist. The threat to our homeland from over the horizon. We'll hold a teller and on accountable. For its commitment not to allow any terrorists. Who threaten the United States or its allies from Afghan soil. The Afghan government has made that commitment to us as well. More focus our full attention. On the threat we face today. In my direction. My team is refine our national strategy. To monitor and disrupt significant terrorist threats not only in Afghanistan but anywhere they may arrives. There in Africa Europe. The Middle East and elsewhere. I spoke yesterday with President Bush. And former my decision. Ian I have that many disagreements over policy throughout the years. Where are absolutely united in our respect and support. From the valor. Courage and integrity. Of the women and men in the United States armed forces who served. Immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone that they have shown through nearly two decades of combat and appointments. We as a nation are forever indebted to that and other families. You all know who less than 1% of Americans serving our forces. Remaining 99% and we told them. We owe that. They've never backed down from a single mission that we've asked of them. I've witnessed her bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan. They've never wavered in the resolved. They dictated tremendous press on our behalf. And they have. The thanks. Of grateful nation. While Wal-Mart stay involved in Afghanistan militarily. Our diplomatic humanitarian work will continue. Who can do to support the government of Afghanistan. We will keep providing assistance the Afghan national defenses and security forces. Along with our partners. We had trained and equipped a standing force of over 300000. Afghan personals today. And hundreds of thousands of in the past two decades. And now continue to fight valuing on behalf of the Afghans. At great cost. Though support peace talks as we will. Support peace talks between the government Afghanistan and taller month facilitated by the United Nations. And will continue to support the rights of Afghan women and girls by maintaining significant. Humanitarian and development assistance. You'll ask other countries other countries in the region and do more to support Afghanistan. Especially. Pakistan. As owe us Russia and China India and Turkey. They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan. No in the next few months. Will also determine. What a continued US diplomatic presence in Afghanistan will look like including. How will ensure the security of our diplomats. Look I know there are many who loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust. US military presence to stand as leverage. We came to an argument is decade. It's never proved effective. Not only had 98000. Troops in Afghanistan. And now we're down to a few thousand. Are diplomacy does not hinge on have you boots in harm's way US boots on the ground. We have to change the ethnic. American troops should be used as a partnership between warring parties in other countries. You know I stuff in more than recipe for keeping American troops in Afghanistan definitely. I also know there are many OR your. There we should stay stay Freddie and Afghanistan because withdrawal would damage America's credibility and weaken America's influence in the world. I believe the exact opposite is true. We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened twenty years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 20/20 one. Rather than return to war the tolerant we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us. After tracking disrupt. Terrorist networks and operations. That spread far embryonic Afghanistan since I don't. That's a short for American competitiveness to meet the stiff competition we're facing. From an increasingly assertive China. Here's to strengthen our alliances and work with like minded partners to ensure that the rules of international norms are governed cyber threats. In emerging technologies that will shape our future. Are grounded in our democratic ballots vote values not those of you ought to crafts. We have to defeat this pandemic can strengthen global health systems prepare for the next one because there will be another pandemic. You know. Will be much more formidable thrive concerns are competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next twenty years. Not the last one. And finally. The main argument for staying longer. To us what each of my three predecessors have grappled Lewis. No one wants to say that we should be in Afghanistan forever. I think assist now is not the right moment to leave. 12014. NATO issued a declaration affirming an Afghan security forces. What from that point I have full responsibility for this country's security by the end of that year. I was seven years ago. So when who appeared in the right mood actually. One more year. Two more years ten more years. 102030. Billion dollars more in Nevada that is truly we've already spent. Not now. That's how we got here. In this moment there's significant downside risks to send me on May first but how to clear timetable for departure. If we instead pursue the approach we're America. US exit is tied to conditions on the ground. We have to have clear answers to the following questions. Just what conditions require. To be required to allow us certain to depart. By what means. And how long would it take to achieve them if they can be achieved at all. And what additional cost in lives and treasure. I'm not turning good answers these questions. That you can't answer my view. We should not stay. The fact is that later today. I'm going to visit Arlington national cemetery section sixty. And that's acre memorial to American sacrifice section cystic section sixty. Is were recent war dead are buried. Including many of them women and men who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. There's no garage no company distance and history. And section sixty. The grief was raw. It's of this reminder. Of the living cost of war. In the past twelve years ever since I became vice president. I've carried with me a card. Reminds me of the exact number American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That exact number not an approximation. Around her off number because every one of those. Dead are sacred. Human beings who left behind entire families. An exact accounted. Every single solitary one needs to be had. As of the day today there are 200. And forty. But it's 2488. US troops or personnel. Who've died in operation enduring freedom. And operation freedoms. Sentinel. Our Afghanistan conflicts. 20722. Have been wounded. I'm the first president forty years. Most Sunnis have a child serving in a war zone. And throughout this process my nor star. Has been remembers. What it was like when my late son beau was deployed to Iraq. How priority was to serve his country. Power system he wants to deplore these union. And the impact it had. And all of us at home. We already have service members during under do you do Afghanistan today who's parents served in the same war. We're service members who are not yet born when our nation was attacked on nine elevenths. War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi generational undertake. We are attacked. We want to war with clear goals. We achieve those objectives and laden is dead. And al-Qaeda as degraded in Iraq and Afghanistan. And its timing and the forevermore. Thank you all for mislead. We cannot protect our troops may god bless all of those families. Who lost someone in this and better.
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