Kabul — U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of next month after 20 years of war. Presidenton Thursday to withdrawal the remaining American forces, defending the timeline even as the in the country.
CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports that right across Afghanistan, districts are falling to the Taliban like dominoes. As U.S. forces head for the exit and the militants inch closer to the capital, the U.S. Embassy has been taking a hard look at its own security situation.
Charge D’Affaires Ross Wilson, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, told D’Agata that the embassy had “added some additional quick reaction capabilities, in the event that something happens.”
Asked if the embassy had emergency evacuation plans in place in the event of a “worst case scenario,” Wilson said he didn’t think any sudden flight from the well-fortified compound was “imminent,” but he added that “planning for evacuations in any post like this is serious business.”
There are only a few miles between the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the capital’s international airport, which American troops are helping to keep secure. But on the streets of Kabul, if it ever comes to an emergency evacuation, the roads will be a no-go. If they suddenly need to extract hundreds, even thousands of staff, the only way will be up.
Already, American diplomats shuttle between the embassy and the airport by helicopter. But with historical attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds still fresh on American minds, there’s clearly a desire to avoid any repeat of chaotic escapes of years gone by.
“There’s going to be no circumstance for you to see people being lifted off the roof of the Embassy of the United States” in Afghanistan, President Biden vowed. It was a reference to the 1975 emergency airlift of Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, just before the then-capital of Vietnam fell to North Vietnamese forces.
More recently there was the, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
No one in Afghanistan believes that kind of catastrophe is imminent, D’Agata said. But even the Taliban tightening its noose around the capital is a concern.
“We’re concerned about the Taliban moves to gain control over some of the highways that are important points of supply for our embassy,” Wilson said.
The Taliban have said they’re not planning a military takeover of Kabul, or intending to storm the U.S. Embassy. But they’ve also said that any foreign troops left behind following the U.S. withdrawal will be considered invaders, and therefore legitimate targets.