US Central Command (CENTCOM), the military body that oversees the Middle East and Central Asia, said more than half of American forces had left Afghanistan in a Tuesday press release.
“US Central Command estimates that we have completed greater than 50% of the entire retrograde process,” it said, adding that approximately 500 loads of material had also been shipped out of the country on C-17 transport planes and that another 13,000 pieces of equipment would soon follow.
However, CENTCOM added that it would “not be updating the specific percentage of the exit process going forward,” citing “operational security reasons” and the need to “preserve force protection.”
While former President Donald Trump signed a deal with the Taliban last year that set a US withdrawal deadline for May 1, the Joe Biden administration scrapped the agreement when it took power, pushing back the pullout to September 11. Despite the delay, however, Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed last month that the withdrawal is “slightly ahead” of schedule.
After a series of phased drawdowns, some 2,500 US soldiers remained in Afghanistan when Trump left office.
The Pentagon has not disclosed the current troop level, but did previously note that additional personnel would be deployed for “force protection” before the exit is complete.