February 29, 2020 — Donald Trump’s government signed a deal with the Taliban setting the terms for a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. At the time, the U.S. had about 13,000 troops still in the country.
March 1, 2020 — Then-Afghan President Ashraf Gahni voiced his objection to a provision of the agreement that would require his country to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. ‘Freeing Taliban prisoners is not the authority of America but the authority of the Afghan government,’ Ghani said at the time.
March 4, 2020 — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley tells the Senate Armed Services Committee the Taliban pledged not to attack U.S. troops and coalition forces.
March 10, 2020 — Ghani orders the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners at the rate of 100 per day under pressure from U.S. government.
May 19, 2020 — A Pentagon inspector general’s (IG) report on Afghanistan activity from January 1 through March 31 noted the U.S. cut troop levels there by more than 4,000 even though ‘the Taliban escalated violence further after signing the agreement.’
August 18, 2020 — A follow-up report for the next quarter noted the Taliban ‘did not appear to uphold its commitment to distance itself from terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.’
September 3, 2020 — Afghanistan releases the final 400 Taliban prisoners under the U.S.-Taliban agreement so intra-Afghan peace talks could begin.
September 12, 2020 — Afghanistan government officials and Taliban representatives met in Qatar for peace talks after months of delay. The U.S.-Taliban agreement called for the first peace talks to begin on March 10.
September 18, 2020 — Trump said at a press conference: ‘We’re dealing very well with the Taliban. They’re very tough, they’re very smart, they’re very sharp. But, you know, it’s been 19 years, and even they are tired of fighting.’
November 16, 2020 — Congressional Republicans warn a withdrawal could lead to ‘a Saigon-type of situation’ in Afghanistan.
November 17, 2020 — Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announces the U.S. will reduce forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by January 15, 2021. The same day the Pentagon’s IG reported Taliban and Afghan negotiations stalled amid increasing violence.
January 15, 2021 — Miller announced ‘U.S. force levels in Afghanistan reached 2,500,’ the lowest since 2001.
January 20, 2021 — Joe Biden is inaugurated as President of the United States
February 3, 2021 — The congressional Afghanistan Study Group, created in December 2019 to help ensure a peaceful transition in Afghanistan, released a report recommending changes to the agreement with the Taliban.
February 19, 2021 — Biden reiterates at the Munich Security Conference his campaign promise to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan.
March 7, 2021 — Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells Ghani that he is ‘concerned that the security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains.’
March 25, 2021 — Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command General Richard Clarke tells the Senate Armed Services Committee ‘it is clear that the Taliban have not upheld what they said they would do and reduce the violence.’
The same day, Biden said during a White House press conference it would be ‘hard’ to keep the May 1, 2021 deadline for withdrawal
April 14, 2021 — Biden announces new deadline for withdrawal, vowing that all U.S. troops will be removed from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Said he ‘inherited a diplomatic agreement’ that is ‘not what I would have negotiated myself.’
‘We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit,’ Biden assured in his speech. ‘We’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.’
April 15, 2021 — In response to Biden’s decision to delay full withdrawal, the Taliban releases a statement saying failure to complete withdrawal by May 1 ‘opens the way for [the Taliban] to take every necessary countermeasure, hence the American side will be held responsible for all future consequences.’
April 18, 2021 — Trump released a statement criticizing Biden’s September 11 withdrawal deadline saying, ‘we can and should get out earlier.’
May 18, 2021 — Defense IG releases a report for the first three months of 2021 claiming the Taliban increased its attacks against Afghanistan forces and appears to be preparing with al-Qaeda for ‘large-scale offensives.’
May 18, 2021 — In a House hearing on U.S. policy in Afghanistan, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad downplays the prospect of a swift Taliban takeover when U.S. forces leave.
June 8, 2021 — Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says after foreign forces leave Afghanistan the group’s goal is to create an ‘Islamic government.’
June 26, 2021 — In his first rally since leaving office, Trump boasts Biden can’t stop the process to remove troops from Afghanistan, and acknowledges the Afghan government won’t last once U.S. troops leave.
July 6, 2021 — U.S. military confirms it has pulled out of Bagram Airfield, its largest airfield in the Afghanistan.
July 8, 2021 — Biden says ‘speed is safety’ and moves up the timeline for full troop withdrawal to August 31, 2021. He blamed Trump for making the deal and assured Americans that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan ‘is not inevitable’. Added ‘the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely’ and promised to accelerate the issuance of special visas for Afghan nationals who helped the U.S. during the war.
July 24, 2021 — At a rally in Phoenix, Trump said when he was president he told the Taliban leader in a phone call that after U.S. troops leave if ‘you decide to do something terrible to our country … we are going to come back and we are going to hit you harder than any country has ever been hit.’
August 6, 2021 — The Taliban takes control of its first province, Nimroz, despite the agreement it signed with the U.S. not to do so.
August 15, 2021 — Taliban fighters enter the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul. Afghan President Ghani flees the country and the U.S. evacuates diplomats from its embassy by helicopter.
August 16, 2021 — In an address to the nation, Biden said: ‘I do not regret my decision to end America’s warfighting in Afghanistan,’ and deflected blame for the government’s swift collapse.’
The same day, thousands rushed to Kabul’s airport after government’s collapse trying to flee Afghanistan.
August 26, 2021 — Nearly 200 people died in suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, including 13 U.S. service members.
August 29, 2021 — A U.S. drone strike kills 10 civilians. Officials said the target was an Islamic State operative with a car full of explosives linked to ISIS-K, but the man was a longtime aid worker for the U.S., and seven of the victims were children.
August 30, 2021 — The U.S. completes it’s withdrawal from Afghanistan as the a final U.S. military C-17 carried the last troops out of the country. Thousands of Afghan allies were left behind and a new report shows at least 800 Americans have been brought home since the withdrawal ended.
The final days saw U.S. forces evacuating more than 122,000 people from Afghanistan. Originally, it was reported that only 100-200 Americans were left behind.