Pentagon: Contractors Will Also be Pulled Out During Afghanistan Stand-Down

The U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Thursday that all contractors working for the U.S. military would be removed in accordance with President Biden’s withdrawal.

Prior to this announcement, it was unclear whether contractors would remain in the country. Austin told reporters that the Pentagon will “responsibly retrograde all of our capabilities that we are responsible for”, to include private military contractors.

While their current contracts will likely come to a close, Austin did indicate that contractors would be allowed to renegotiate deals with the Pentagon in the future.

Estimates put the number of active military contractors in the region around 17,000, including 6,150 Americans, 4,300 Afghans and 6,400 foreign nationals. All of them are listed as Pentagon contractors.

Reports indicate that Afghan security forces are in daily combat with Taliban troops, killing or wounding over 50 in attacks that have taken place in 26 provinces.

Afghan security forces have not reported a definite number of Taliban casualties, but news outlets have reported “dozens dead”.

A number of Afghan interpreters have pleaded for the U.S. military to “not leave them behind” out of fear that they will be targeted by the Taliban. Several interpreters have reported that their contracts with U.S. personnel were abruptly terminated and that they are now “forgotten war heroes”.

A report released from Brown University in April shows a backlog of 19,000 immigration applications from Afghanistan, with many of these visa requests belonging to interpreters who assisted U.S. military forces during the now decades-long conflict.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, has reported continued levels of violent attack against Afghan security forces but no attacks against U.S. personnel since May 1. Milley says it is too early to speculate on the effects of the U.S. Departure, telling reporters that the Taliban retaking the capital of Kabul is “not a foregone conclusion.”

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