Watch Live: Top Pentagon officials hold first press conference since Afghanistan withdrawal

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the nation’s highest military officer Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley are holding a press conference Wednesday at 1 p.m. It will be the first press event the two men have done since the formal end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan.  

The head of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie on Monday announced all U.S. troops had withdrawn from the country, marking the end of the nation’s longest war. The last U.S. plane left Afghanistan at 3:29 ET on Monday.

How to watch Austin and Milley’s press conference

  • What: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hold a press conference

  • Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2021

  • Time: 1 p.m. ET

  • Location: Pentagon – Arlington, Virginia

  • Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.

The last troops in the war in Afghanistan were those supporting the largest noncombatant evacuation mission in the U.S. military’s history, evacuating over 124,000 individuals since the end of July. 

The operation ended despite leaving behind U.S. citizens and scores of vulnerable Afghans who risk retaliation from the Taliban. The final days of the operation cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members and over 170 Afghan civilians when a suicide bomber detonated outside the airport. 

President Biden called the evacuation mission an “extraordinary success” in remarks Tuesday commemorating the end of the evacuation mission and with it, the war. Mr. Biden made the decision earlier this year to end the war and withdraw all troops by August 31.  

“We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. Then we stayed for another decade,” Mr. Biden said in his remarks Tuesday. “It was time to end this war.”

Over 2,400 Americans died in the war in Afghanistan and more than 20,000 were wounded. The U.S. spent close to $1 trillion on the war, according to a recent inspector general report

On Tuesday, in his first public comments since the war ended, Milley said, “Today is an incredibly emotional day. All of us are conflicted with feelings of pain and anger. Sorrow and sadness. Combined with pride and resilience.”

“One thing I’m certain of – for any soldier, sailor, airman, or marine and their family – your service mattered. It was not in vain.”