Under the cover of darkness, the United States ended its 20 year-long military mission in Afghanistan when the final C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft left Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul just before midnight local time on 30 August.
In what the Pentagon billed as the largest non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) in US history, the US military and coalition partners airlifted 123,000 civilians from the Central Asian country in 17 days, General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command (USCENTCOM) told reporters just after the operation ended.
From that figure, US military aircraft ferried more than 79,500 civilians out of the country, including 6,000 US citizens and 73,500 third-country nationals and Afghan civilians. The 500–600 Afghan military members that had been working alongside US service members to secure HKIA were also airlifted out of the country, along with their families.
While the military evacuation is complete, the diplomatic mission continues to ensure that additional US citizens and eligible Afghans who want to leave can do so, said Gen McKenzie. He estimated that there are still hundreds of US citizens inside Afghanistan looking for a way out.
“No American citizens came out on ... the last five jets to leave,” he added. “We maintained the ability to bring them out up until immediately before departure but ... that activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit.”
In the waning hours of their time at HKIA, US military forces were packing up to depart the country. This also included destroying weapons, equipment, and other materials not being flown out of Afghanistan.