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As General Gives Up Command, an End to US' Longest War

Army Gen. Austin 'Scott' Miller to step down Monday as commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2021 8:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – For nearly three years, Army Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller has been in command of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which NBC News reports is longer than anyone else in that role. Now, Miller is set to step down from his post on Monday, in what NBC and other outlets call a "symbolic end" to the 20-year involvement of the US military in that region. Miller will officially hand off command of US Forces Afghanistan in a military ceremony to Marine Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, who helms US Central Command and who will oversee the remainder of the operation from CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Fla., per the Washington Post. About 650 US troops will remain in Kabul to protect the US Embassy there, while a few hundred more will assist with security at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

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Most of the other 2,500 to 3,500 troops that had been stationed in Afghanistan left the country by the start of this month, ahead of President Biden's original plan to see a complete withdrawal by Sept. 11. The formal end to the military mission there is Aug. 31. Both the Post and Reuters note that as the larger-scale operation in Afghanistan wraps up, Taliban insurgents are making moves to overthrow the country's government. Last week, the Taliban claimed it now has control over 85% of the nation, though that hasn't been confirmed. Reuters notes about 2,400 US troops have died over the span of the war, America's longest. As for Miller, 60, defense officials say he'll likely retire. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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