Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan refused, during a press briefing on Tuesday, to commit to keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan until every American and Afghan ally is safely and securely evacuated out of the country.
After a reporter asked whether U.S. troops would “stay until everyone is out,” Sullivan dodged the question by saying he was not “going to comment on hypotheticals,” but reaffirmed his focus on “getting as many people out as rapidly as possible and we will take that day by day.”
When pressed on why he “can’t commit to bring back every American,” Sullivan simply did not respond and called on another reporter.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed during the press conference that about 11,000 American citizens remain stuck in the embattled country after the Taliban took power. Less than 200 Americans were reportedly evacuated over the weekend.
Another reporter followed up by asking a similar question about evacuating every American to which Sullivan responded, “That’s what we’re doing right now, we have asked them all to come to the airport to get on flights and take them home.”
When asked the same question, Jen Psaki also failed to guarantee that every American would be evacuated amid the dangerous situation, giving a similar response to Sullivan’s.
“Our focus right now is on doing the work at hand and on the task at hand,” Psaki responded. “And that is day by day, getting as many American citizens, as many SIV applicants, as many members of vulnerable population who are eligible to be evacuated, to the airport and out on planes.”
During the briefing, Sullivan claimed the administration was fully aware that the Taliban could possibly take over Afghanistan when the decision was made to withdraw U.S. troops from the country. This statement contradicts Biden’s previous assertion in July that the likelihood of the Taliban assuming control of the country was “highly unlikely.”
It is still unknown whether the Biden administration plans to evacuate every American out of Afghanistan and how long that process will take.
Biden officials have not revealed specifics on how they plan to evacuate the remaining thousands of U.S. citizens by the troop withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31.