President Joe Biden plans to withdraw all remaining U.S. military forces from Afghanistan within the next five months, effectively ending the longest war in American history by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, multiple news outlets reported Tuesday.

Key Facts

Biden will announce his plan to withdraw troops by Sept. 11 this week, multiple unnamed sources told the Washington Post, CNN, Reuters and other outlets.

This means some U.S. forces will stay in Afghanistan about four months later than May 1, a withdrawal deadline the United States and the Taliban agreed upon last year — Biden had previously said that deadline would be “tough” to abide by.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Big Number

2,500. That’s how many U.S. troops the Pentagon says are currently in Afghanistan, far below the nearly 100,000 forces in the country during the war’s peak in 2011.

Key Background

Biden is the third consecutive president to promise to end the war in Afghanistan. The protracted conflict started shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, when the Taliban — which controlled most of Afghanistan at the time — refused to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States. The Taliban was quickly removed from power, but the war then turned into a broader and oft-criticized effort to wrest large parts of the country from the Taliban’s control, support the beleaguered U.S.-backed government and develop the country’s economy. Former President Barack Obama surged troops to Afghanistan in his first term but left office with more than 8,000 personnel still in place, and former President Donald Trump agreed to withdraw all remaining troops by next month as long as the Taliban promised not to harbor foreign terrorists or attack American forces.

What To Watch For

The Taliban’s reaction. The group has repeatedly demanded the United States abide by its May 1 withdrawal deadline, threatening to resume hostilities against foreign troops if the United States backs away from its commitment. 


The withdrawal plan is likely to draw praise from some members of both parties who have pushed for an end to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) — who has regularly argued the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable — applauded Biden’s decision in a statement, calling it “an act of extraordinary political courage and vision.”


Some observers have criticized the drive to pull out troops as quickly as possible. They argue Taliban-instigated violence is still too frequent in Afghanistan, and the Taliban and the Afghan government haven’t crafted a power-sharing agreement yet, so a U.S. withdrawal could embolden the Taliban to ramp up hostilities against the government and take over wide swaths of territory.

Further Reading

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021 (Washington Post)

Biden Might Keep Troops In Afghanistan After May 1 Deadline (Forbes)