What is Department of State’s plan to bring out remaining Americans, Afghan allies?

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden stood by his decision to end the war in Afghanistan. He directly addressed questions about the Americans and Afghan allies who were left behind.

“Leaving by August 31st is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,” Biden said.

This comes just one day after the U.S. Secretary of State said they are taking on the charge of working to safely get Americans, foreign nationals and Afghans out of the war-torn country, if they choose.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke to Nancy Soderberg, a former deputy national security advisor, who explained how long this effort could take to get Americans out of there.

Soderberg told Cole she has experience in the White House, in those National Security meetings, where they’re working to get Americans out of crisis situations like this.

She said it’s doable, but since there’s no trust for the Taliban, the question is whether they’re going to let them go or not.

“We are here this morning to pay our respects in honor of the 13 service members, whose lives were cut drastically short while serving, serving in Afghanistan,” Teddy Colgate said.

Colgate is a retired Major from the United States Marine Corp. He was one of many who filled Cecil Field Chapel, to honor the 13 service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“2009-2010, Afghanistan, I came home. I remind myself daily that I must never take those words for granted,” Colgate said, trying to hold back the tears.

Now the U.S Department of State said it’s ready to do what it takes to get Americans and American allies, out of Afghanistan.

Soderberg said she thinks there will be ways to get them out.

“How would they do that? You can drive across Afghanistan, they could charter private planes, they could continue having civilian evacuations. It all depends on whether the Taliban uphold their end of the agreement. But I don’t think anyone trusts the Taliban, so it’s going to be a very tense wait-and-see, until those people are safe. So, it is not over,” Soderberg said.

Soderberg, who is currently the director of political science and public administration at the University of North Florida, says there’s another factor to consider as well.

“Not everybody wants to leave, is the other complication. And I think that a lot of Afghans are taking a wait-and-see attitude to see how the Taliban react.”

Soderberg said the U.S. doesn’t trust or recognize the Taliban; they have already violated part of an agreement put in place by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

“We can try and work with him to organize safe passage. Even if leadership agrees, do they really control all of their fighters across Afghanistan? Probably not. So, this is an incredibly complex, just heartbreaking situation,” Soderberg told Action News Jax.

But she also mentioned that efforts are also made more complicated by ISIS-K and Al-Qaida.

She said her heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in the war.

“It was not until later in my career and I truly felt the impact of coming home. I had to endure those I did not,” Colgate said as he wiped tears from his face.

Soderberg said there are more questions than answers right now, including what will happen to the tens-of-thousands of allies who worked as translators and support staff. But she said she knows Biden and his team are committed to getting them out.