The top US commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Austin "Scott" Miller, has stepped down on Monday in what's being dubbed a symbolic end to to two decades of war. Miller has overseen American military forces in Afghanistan for almost three years, and formally relinquished responsibility in a ceremony in Kabul.
He's considered the longest serving commander in Afghanistan and has recently consistently raised the alarm of the pace of Taliban gains amid the US withdrawal effort. According to The Hill, ahead of Biden's expected August 31 'completion' of the mission date issued last week, "Virtually all other troops, contractors and equipment already have exited, defense officials said on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity."
Monday's "Transfer of Authority ceremony" in Kabul handed over the reigns to CENTCOM chief Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, who will oversee the final exit and deployment of the planned-for approximately 650 troops to guard the large US embassy compound in Kabul.
McKenzie will manage the final logistics and winding down of the military mission from his headquarters in Tampa. CNN has meanwhile reported that "Rear Adm. Peter Vasely will reportedly lead approximately 650 troops that are responsible for protecting the US Embassy."
President Biden in his big Afghan exit speech days ago said it's "highly unlikely" that "there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country."
However, the terror group has continued advancing at lightning pace, particularly in the north, where multiple districts were recently overrun and Afghan forces abandoned their posts in droves. The Taliban has also lately overrun prisons where they've freed hundreds or possibly thousands of detained jihadists which have rejoined Taliban ranks.
Hundreds of Afghan national forces have reportedly sought refuge in neighboring Tajikistan, with this episode providing a perhaps early answer to Biden's rhetorical question last week...
"They have the capacity. They have the forces. They have the equipment. The question is: Will they do it?," the US president said of the Afghan government. Based on early clashes (or lack thereof) between national forces and the Taliban, the final answer to this is not looking good.