UPDATE 2 - US Drawdown In Afghanistan Going 'According To Plan' - Defense Secretary Austin

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 06th May, 2021) The US pullout of troops from Afghanistan is proceeding according to plan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a press conference on Thursday.

"So far, less than one week in, the drawdown is going according to plan," Austin said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley during the press conference said the Taliban have not conducted any attacks against US or Coalition forces in Afghanistan since the drawdown began May 1.

Austin said the United States has pulled out about 60 C-17 plane loads of equipment from Afghanistan and marked more than 1,300 pieces of equipment that will be destroyed. Moreover, the United States has formally handed over the US base Camp Antonik in Helmand, Afghanistan, to the Afghan National Army, he added.

US Central Command estimates that the United States has completed between 2 percent to 6 percent of the entire withdrawal process.

Austin said Washington will do everything to make the drawdown deliberate, orderly and safe as well as to protect its people and partners.

He also said the United States is shifting to a new bilateral relationship with Afghan Security partners in which the two nations will work towards common goals in some new and different ways.

The US administration is hopeful that the Afghan security forces will be able to play a major role in stopping the Taliban, but acknowledged that it will be a challenge for them, Austin said. The United States will continue to support the Afghan security forces through logistics and financial support after the US withdrawal, Austin said.

The defense chief also said the United States will withdraw all contractors working for US forces in Afghanistan.

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan began last week, following the original May 1 deadline agreed upon by the United States and the Taliban. A full withdrawal from the country would mark an end to the longest war in US history.