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U.S. moved 60 planeloads of equipment out of Afghanistan, Pentagon says

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III walks with the commander of Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, Army Lt. Gen. E. John Deedrick Jr., before departing Kabul, Afghanistan, in March. File Photo by Lisa Ferdinando/DoD/UPI
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III walks with the commander of Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, Army Lt. Gen. E. John Deedrick Jr., before departing Kabul, Afghanistan, in March. File Photo by Lisa Ferdinando/DoD/UPI | License Photo

May 4 (UPI) -- The United States has moved the equivalent of 60 C-17 military transport planeloads of material out of Afghanistan and turned over more 1,300 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for destruction, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Since President Joe Biden announced plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, Pentagon leaders estimate that U.S. Central Command has completed between 2% and 6% of its retrograde process in the country.

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The U.S. has also officially handed over the New Antonik facility to the Afghan National Army, Central Command said in a press release, adding that it plans to "be able to provide weekly updates on the progress of the retrograde."

During a briefing with reporters on Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that the Taliban has escalated attacks on occupying in recent days as the United States prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 of this year.

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The United States will continue to support Afghan National Security Forces in "whatever way we can" as the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan continues, Kirby told reporters.

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On Saturday, the Taliban warned of attacks on occupying forces as the United States passed the withdrawal deadline of May 1, set last year by then-President Donald Trump.

And last week a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said 115 security personnel were killed and almost 40 were injured in fighting over the first three months of 2021 -- an increase of more than 80% compared to the same period last year.

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"Obviously we have concerns about the insider threat, and we have for quite some time. Sadly it's not a new threat, and it is of concern," Kirby said Monday when asked about the uptick in attacks, adding that the Pentagon is committed to supporting the Afghan National Security Forces moving forward.

He deferred many questions about the details of the drawdown to Central Command leadership, but did say the recent attacks have not substantially affected plans to withdraw troops from the country.

"What we've seen are some small, harassing attacks over the course of the weekend that have not had any significant impact, certainly not on our people or on our resources there and [our] bases," Kirby said.

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None of the recent attacks have affected the drawdown or "had any significant impact" on the mission at hand, he added.

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Over the long term, he said, the United States' relationship with the Afghan National Security Forces "is going to change once we are no longer on the ground there."

"We're still working our way through the details of exactly what that relationship's going to look like going forward. It'll be largely of a financial nature, because we're not going to have U.S. troops on the ground in the same assistance roles that they are now," Kirby said.

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