The last US military planes left Afghanistan, Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, announced Monday at the Pentagon. The US departure marked the end of a fraught, chaotic and bloody exit from the United States’ longest war.
“I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans,” McKenzie told reporters. “The last C-17 lifted off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 30th, this afternoon, at 3:29 p.m. East Coast time, and the last manned aircraft is now clearing the airspace above Afghanistan.”
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”
President Joe Biden weighed in with a statement later on Monday and thanked the final US forces serving in Afghanistan for executing the “dangerous retrograde from Afghanistan as scheduled,” with no further loss of American lives.
As of Monday, more than 122,000 people in total had been airlifted from Hamid Karzai International Airport since July, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday morning.
Since August 14, the Pentagon deployed US Special Operations Forces to bring in 1,064 US citizens and 2,017 at risk Afghans or Special Immigrant Visa applicants, McKenzie said. “We have evacuated more than 6,000 US civilians, which we believe represents the vast majority of those who wanted to leave at this time,” he said.
There were no US citizens on the last five flights out of Kabul, McKenzie said, and no evacuees left at the airport when the last two US officials — Gen. Christopher Donohue and the embassy’s chargé d’affaires Ross Wilson — stepped off Afghan soil and onto the final US aircraft leaving Afghanistan.