Kabul, Jul 12 (EFE).- Responsibility for the few remaining American troops in Afghanistan was transferred on Monday to the head of the Florida-based United States Central Command, a move that marks the symbolic end to a two-decade war in that Asian country.
US Army Gen. Scott Miller, who had led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan since 2018, stepped down and transferred control to Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie.
“The people of Afghanistan will be in my heart and on my mind for the rest of my life,” Miller told the media in Kabul at an official ceremony. “Our job now is not to forget” those who made sacrifices, he added.
McKenzie, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, will be in charge of a new mission that will be controlled from two command centers: one led by Rear Adm. Peter Vasely and tasked with providing security for the US Embassy in Kabul and the other based in Qatar and led by Army Brig. Gen. Curtis Buzzard that will administer funding to the Afghan military.
“The people of Afghanistan should know that this transition signals our enduring commitment to continue working with them in the months and years ahead,” McKenzie, who flew to Kabul for the ceremony, said.
Doing so “from bases outside of Afghanistan indicates a change in posture, but not a change in our resolve to support our partners,” he added.
The Taliban launched an unprecedented offensive as US and NATO troops began the final phase of their withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country.
Over the past couple of months, the insurgents have seized over 120 districts in what marks their largest territorial gains of the past two decades.
They also have been surrounding several provincial capitals and seemingly waiting for the right time to strike.
The number of US military personnel in Afghanistan peaked at 100,000 during the period 2010-2012 under then-President Barack Obama, who current head of state Joe Biden served as vice president.
By the time Obama left office in January 2017, the troop level was below 9,000.
That number stood at around 2,500 on April 14 when Biden officially declared that US forces would be entirely withdrawn by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that spurred the invasion.
The withdrawal date was later pushed up to Aug. 31. EFE