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One year since the end of the Afghan War

U.S. Marines with 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division, parachute to their landing point during a parachute operations training on Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, April 28, 2022. This military freefall training included integration with U.S. Navy Physiological Technicians which enabled the unit to jump from 19,000 feet and above using oxygen supported supports. ​ (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Deja Thomas)

“Today, we mark one year since the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and I, like so many of you, have been reflecting on the sacrifice that American Service Members, Veterans, their families, and so many others made during America’s longest war.,” said Lloyd Austin the Defense Secretary.}

“I first want to express my profound gratitude to all who served in Afghanistan, including everyone on our Department of Defense team.  Every American who contributed to our efforts shared a deep devotion to keeping our country safe, working toward a brighter future for the Afghan people, and standing up for liberty, democracy, and the rule of law.  As a veteran of the war, I witnessed firsthand the bravery, selflessness, and compassion that our men and women brought to the fight.  Your efforts make me proud to be your colleague – and even prouder to be an American.”

Two decades of exemplary service required a an enormous and selfless sacrifice. Many Service personnel still carry the scars of war to their bodies and souls while 2,461 brave heroes never returned home. To our Gold Star families: Your loved family members will always be in our thoughts and we promise to keep them safe.

The United States went to Afghanistan in 2001 to fight an unavoidable war of self-defense. On September 11 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists attacked our country. They were in a position to plan and execute this horrific attack because their Taliban hosts had given them refuge in Afghanistan. Since 2001, no enemy has been able of launching such an attack against our nation. This is a testament to the efforts of the entire U.S government to defend our citizens from terrorist threats from Afghanistan and all over the globe.

We know that this work is far from over. We must maintain a constant focus on counterterrorism . And we are. In the last few weeks, the United States delivered justice to Ayman al-Zawahiri who was the leader of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s deputy at the time of the 9/11 attacks. And in recent months our military has carried out operations against the most powerful ISIS leaders. We are aware that stopping terrorist violence requires more than military might. We’re committed to assisting an entire government effort to address the root factors that fuel violent extremism. There’s no reason to doubt America’s commitment to keeping our people secure.

For me, there is no greater evidence of the strength of a country’s democracy than the fact that millions of people chooseevery day to protect it. Those who step up to serve – whether in uniform or as part of our civilian workforce – do so for the values we fight for: the rule of law as well as human dignity and freedom.

So , last year, in the final days of the war the United States, along with our allies and partners carried out the largest air evacuation of civilians in American history, moving more than 124,000 people from danger. I am proud of the manner in which our military communities, as well as Americans from all walks, have welcomed our Afghan allies as we begin our new lives in this country.

Our values continue to drive the vital work of American patriots from all over the world. In the face of Russia’s impulsive and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the United States is providing urgent assistance to Ukraine. We will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people and defending the international order based on rules from any autocrats or aggressors.

As the United States looks back on the past two decades of fighting in Afghanistan I am aware that many people are asking hard questions about the cost of the war and the sacrifices that were made. These are important conversations, and I hope that we will continue to have them with care as well as respect.

Last year, I said that although the Afghanistan war has ended, our gratitude to those who served never will.  Today, I renew that pledge.  To every man and woman who served in Afghanistan: This country will never forget what you did and what you gave.”

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