Common Defense Veterans on Afghanistan Withdrawal Deadline: “Leave No One Behind”

August 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — As President Biden meets with G7 leaders and evacuation flights continue out of Kabul, one guiding principle cannot be forgotten under any circumstances: The United States and our partners must continue evacuation efforts until every American and Afghan refugee makes it to safety. 

In response, Common Defense released the following statement today:

“Common Defense pushed harder than anyone for an end to the forever wars, and we applaud President Biden for staying true to his campaign promise to withdraw from Afghanistan. His decision to end America’s longest war was a historic moment which was a welcome relief for many veterans, service members, and military families who have borne the weight of twenty years of conflict. 

“However, ending the war must not come at the cost of abandoning our allies. The United States and our allies must take every possible step to complete a full evacuation of all Americans, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and all Afghan refugees. If necessary, the president should allow for an extension beyond the August 31 deadline for full withdrawal in order to achieve a full and safe evacuation. However, this should not become an indefinite extension.

“As part of the Evacuate Our Allies coalition, we commend President Biden and his administration for working around the clock in order to meet the August 31 deadline—but that deadline cannot blind us to the reality we may face in one week’s time. It’s far more important that we do our job right and get everyone out than it is to do it quickly and leave people behind.

“Still, remarkable progress has been made in recent weeks. More than 63,900 people have been successfully evacuated from Afghanistan since July. Even more impressive are reports that over the past 24 hours, an U.S. military flight left HKIA an average of every 45 minutes. As the veterans of Common Defense know first-hand, our service members can and will accomplish the mission set in front of them. With so much at stake, this work rate—this commitment to guaranteeing the safety of thousands of Americans, SIVs, and Afghan refugees—cannot fade. 

“Even in light of recent Taliban threats, the United States and our G7 allies must hold strong and secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for as many people as possible for as long as possible. We call upon the G7 leaders to guarantee continued evacuation efforts for as long as it takes, especially for the most at-risk groups, including women, children, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of religious and ethnic minorities.

“With the situation on the ground growing more urgent by the second, time is of the essence. On behalf of veterans across the nation, we urge the United States to make one commitment above all else: no one—no American, SIV, or Afghan refugee—will be left behind.”

In Solidarity,

Team Common Defense

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