Biden says he’s mindful of threats to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan the longer they stay in the country

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, President Biden said the U.S. is on pace to complete the evacuation of Afghanistan by Aug. 31, but he has asked for plans to adjust the timeline if it’s necessary. He said he is mindful that staying in Afghanistan puts Americans at risk from groups such as ISIS-K.

Video transcript

JOE BIDEN: We had a productive discussion. There were strong agreement among the leaders about-- both about the evacuation mission underway as well as the need to coordinate our approach to the Afghan-- to Afghanistan as we move forward. First, on evacuation, we agreed that we will continue to close-- our close cooperation to get people out as efficiently and safely as possible. We are currently on a pace to finish by August the 31. The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops. But the completion by August 31 depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who we're transporting out and no disruptions to our operations.

In addition, I've asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable, should that become necessary. I'm determined to ensure that we complete our mission-- this mission. I'm also mindful of the increasing risks that I've been briefed on and the need to factor those risks in. There are real and significant challenges that we also have to take into consideration the longer we stay, starting with the acute and growing risk of an attack by a terrorist group known as ISIS-K, an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, which is a sworn enemy of the Taliban as well. Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and allied forces and innocent civilians.

Additionally, thus far, the Taliban have been taking steps to work with us so we can get our people out. But it's a tenuous situation. We're already had some gunfighting break out. We run a serious risk of it breaking down as time goes on.