The United States military has counted 2,461 troops killed besides tens of thousands wounded in the 20-year Afghan war that officially ended August 30 with the last of the troops being flown out the now Taliban-controlled country.
“We lost 2,461 troops in that war, and tens of thousands of others suffered wounds, seen and unseen. The scars of combat don’t heal easily, and often never heal at all,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III.
More than 800,000 American service members and 25,000 civilians served in Afghanistan over the almost 20-year mission.
The last military planes have left Kabul and the evacuation operation is over, Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command told Pentagon reporters today.
Some 6,000 American citizens and more than 123,000 people from Afghanistan—the vast majority of whom are Afghans, were evacuated. This was the largest non-combatant evacuation operation ever conducted by the U.S. military. President Joe Biden ordered the start of the NEO operation on August 14.
"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 said via teleconference from his headquarters in Tampa.
The C-17 departure today was both the end of the military portion of the evacuation and "also the end of the nearly 20 year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2001," McKenzie said. "It is a mission that brought Osama bin Laden to an end, along with many of his al-Qaida co-conspirators, and it was not a cheap mission."
In the suicide bombings and gunfire attacks in Kabul airport claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan last week, 13 American service members lost their lives. “I am deeply saddened that, in the course of this historic evacuation mission, we lost 13 of our own, along with so many others who were killed and wounded days ago by cruel terrorists,” the Secretary of Defense added.
Mostly in their 20s and born just around the time of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the fallen personnel returned 24 hours ago in the last of the caskets from Afghanistan, draped in the U.S. flag.
The U.S. is also said to save spent over $2.3 trillion on orations in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last 20 years.