Live Updates: Joe Biden Addresses Nation After U.S. Completes Afghanistan Withdrawal

Live Updates

President Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time since the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, effectively ending the nation's longest war.

In the address, Biden provided additional insight on his criticized decisions to follow through with the U.S. withdrawal and not extend the Aug. 31 deadline. His "fundamental obligation" as president, he said, is "to defend and protect America."

"Not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan," he said.

He also said that the U.S. reached its goals in Afghanistan over a decade ago, and pulling the troops out would end "an era of major military operations to remake other countries."

Since the mass airlift began on August 14, the U.S. evacuated around 120,000 U.S. citizens, Afghans and foreigners, Biden said. Despite Aug. 31 passing, he asserted that "there is no deadline" for the U.S. to help remaining people from those groups leave the country.

Biden was harshly criticized for the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, as well as the deaths of U.S. service members and civilians sustained during attacks from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) near the Kabul airport. While he expressed condolences to the families of service members killed or injured during the mission, he "respectfully" disagrees with critics claiming that evacuations should have started sooner and could have been done in a more orderly manner.

"Imagine if we begun evacuations in June or July, bringing in thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people in the middle of a civil war. There still would have been a rush to the airport, a break down in confidence and control of the government and still would have been very difficult and dangerous mission," Biden said.

"The bottom line is there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced," he continued.

He concluded his speech by reiterating his belief that the decision to pull American troops was the "right decision, the wise decision and the best decision for America."

The live updates for this event have ended.

Biden Speaks After Afghanistan Airlift Completion
The last American military aircraft took off from Hamid Karzai Airport a few minutes before midnight in Kabul, marking the end of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan since the invasion following the attacks of September 11, 2001. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the end of the war in Afghanistan in the State Dining Room at the White House on August 31, 2021 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Biden Would Not 'Extend This Forever War," or a 'Forever Exit' from Afghanistan

President Joe Biden stated Tuesday that he refused to "extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit" from Afghanistan, referring to his decisions to withdraw from the country and then stick to the Aug. 31 deadline despite urges to do otherwise.

He added that the decision to withdraw from the country rather than mobilizing many more troops to combat the growing power of the Taliban was also about putting a stop to "an era of major military operations to remake other countries."

"We saw a mission of counterterrorism in Afghanistan, getting the terrorists and stopping attacks, morph into a counterinsurgency, nation-building, trying to create a democratic, cohesive, and united Afghanistan, something that has never been done over many centuries of Afghanistan's history. Moving on from that mindset and those kind of large-scale troop deployments will make us stronger and more effective and safer at home," he said.

He concluded his speech by reiterating his belief that the decision to pull American troops was the "right decision, the wise decision and the best decision for America."

Families of 13 Service Members Owed 'Debt' That Can't Be Repaid, Biden Says

President Joe Biden acknowledged the 13 U.S. service members killed Thursday in a Kabul attack claimed by ISIS and promised that America would never forget them

"Twenty service members were wounded in the service of this mission. Thirteen heroes gave their lives," Biden said.

"We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but we should never, ever, ever forget," he continued.

Biden Says Afghanistan Decision Driven by 'Fundamental Obligation" of President to 'Protect America'

President Joe Biden offered more insight into his decision to follow through on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan Tuesday, saying that his "fundamental obligation" as president is "to defend and protect America."

"Not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan," he said.

"When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today I've honored that commitment," Biden continued.

To Those Saying U.S. Withdrawal Could Have Been Executed in More Orderly Way, 'I Respectfully Disagree," Biden Says

In the wake of the backlash aimed at President Joe Biden for the chaos of the Afghanistan withdrawal, the president said that "I take responsibility for the decision."

Biden also said that he "respectfully" disagrees with critics claiming that evacuations should have started sooner and could have been done in a more orderly manner. There "still would have been a rush to the airport" even if the U.S. began earlier, he stated.

"Imagine if we begun evacuations in June or July, bringing in thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people in the middle of a civil war. There still would have been a rush to the airport, a break down in confidence and control of the government and still would have been very difficult and dangerous mission," Biden said.

"The bottom line is there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced. None," he continued.

U.S. Reached Out 19 Times to Americans in Afghanistan Since March, Biden Says

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. had reached out 19 times since March to Americans in Afghanistan regarding upcoming evacuations and withdrawal from the country. Those Americans began receiving offers for the U.S. to help them leave around the same time, he said.

The U.S. airlift ultimately helped 5,500 Americans out of Afghanistan, while some, including dual citizens, decided to stay. However, he vowed that the U.S. would aid any American, Afghan ally of the U.S. or foreign national to leave if they changed their minds despite the Aug. 31 deadline passing.

'We Are Not Done With You Yet," Biden Tells ISIS-K

President Joe Biden directly addressed the group ISIS-K during remarks Tuesday, vowing that despite the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, "we are not done with you yet."

ISIS on its official news outlet claimed responsibility for the believed suicide bomber attack near the Kabul airport last week that killed 13 U.S. service members and more civilians. However, Biden spoke of terror threats spreading and strengthening in other parts of the world that the U.S. hoped to combat rather than remaining concentrated in Afghanistan.

"As commander in chief, I firmly believe the best path to guard our safety and our security lies in tough, unforgiving, targeted, precise strategy that goes after terror where it is today," Biden said.

U.S. Spent $300 Million in Afghanistan Every Day, According to Brown University Estimates

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the U.S. was estimated to have spent $300 million on Afghanistan per day for two straight decades, totaling more than $2 trillion.

The figures were based on research and estimates from Brown University, Biden said.

"What have we lost as a consequence in terms of opportunities?" Biden asked. "I refuse to continue a war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interest of our people."

U.S. 'Will Never Rest" in Fighting Terror Threats, Biden Says

President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would "never rest" in combating terror threats and won't forgive or forget acts against America and its allies in the past

"You will pay the ultimate price," he said.

He also pledged to hunt down terrorists "to the ends of the earth."

U.S. Succeeded in Afghanistan Goals 'Over a Decade Ago," Biden Says

President Joe Biden said that the U.S. succeeded in what it "set out to do" in Afghanistan "over a decade ago," citing goals to prevent another terror attack on the U.S. after 9/11 in 2001.

Despite the U.S. succeeding, "we stayed for another decade" and "it was time to end this war," Biden said

"I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan," he added.

Afghanistan Mission Designed to Operate "Under Severe Stress," Biden Says

After President Joe Biden received severe backlash for the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, he asserted during a national address Tuesday that the mission was "designed" to operate under "severe stress."

"And that's what it did," he said.

Taliban Agreed Not to Attack U.S. Troops if American Followed Through on Trump Withdrawal Agreement

President Joe Biden said that when he took office in January, the Taliban was at its strongest in Afghanistan since 2001. He had a choice of either following through on an agreement from the Trump administration to withdraw, or risk the Taliban attacking U.S. troops and send in many more troops to combat the growing Taliban presence, Biden said.

"That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating," Biden said.

'There Is No Deadline' For Getting Remaining Americans, Afghan Allies Out of County

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that 90 percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave the country amid evacuation efforts were able to leave.

For the remaining Americans, Afghan partners and foreign nationals, "there is no deadline" for the U.S. to help them out, Biden said.

"We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out," he added.

120,000 Evacuated More Than Double What Experts Thought Were Possible, Biden Says

During an address to the nation Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. evacuated more than 120,000 Afghans, Americans and foreigners from Afghanistan.

This is "more than double what most experts thought were possible," he said.

He thanked the U.S service members and commanders who made the airlift possible and ended "the longest war in American history."