Home World U.S. Steps Up Planning for Emergency Afghan Evacuation

U.S. Steps Up Planning for Emergency Afghan Evacuation

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KABUL—U.S. officials have intensified planning for an emergency evacuation of the American embassy in Kabul amid concern that a worsening security situation in Afghanistan could imperil the remaining military and diplomatic corps, as well as other Americans.

The preparations are taking place as part of the U.S. withdrawal of Afghanistan, which the Pentagon said Friday would take place by the end of August. As part of the withdrawal, officials said, the U.S. military withdrew from Bagram air base, the centerpiece of American military operations in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years.

The plan to withdraw by the end of August represents a shift from earlier plans to remove all U.S. forces by as soon as this month.

The expanded planning for an embassy evacuation, reflecting an increase in concern that a Taliban offensive could overwhelm U.S. security and Afghan government forces guarding the U.S. Embassy, has not been previously reported. An evacuation could involve not only hundreds of personnel at the U.S. Embassy but thousands of other Americans in the country.

The U.S. military routinely conducts planning for nearly any contingency, including what it calls noncombatant evacuations at embassies and other locations. Because of the more pressing concerns in Afghanistan, planners stepped up preparations, contemplating evacuation operations based on scenarios that are more specific, officials familiar with the planning said.