“I do not regret my decision,” Biden told reporters in Washington at an unrelated press conference.
Former President Donald Trump triggered the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, where American forces have been stationed since 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Biden delayed the U.S. pullout but ultimately kept his predecessor’s move in place, over protests from some top military minds and members of Congress.
Proponents of the withdrawal pointed to the years of casualties among U.S. troops and asserted there were few signs that continued American involvement outweighed further injuries and deaths.
Biden echoed those points on Tuesday, saying that the United States lost thousands of personnel during its 20 years in the Middle Eastern country.
“They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation. The United States, I’ll insist we continue to keep the commitments we made in providing close air support, making sure their Air Force functions and is operable, resupplying their forces with food and equipment, and paying all their salaries,” he added. “But they’ve got to want to fight. They outnumber the Taliban.”
John Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, offered a similar take a day prior.
“It’s their country to defend now. It’s their struggle,” he said in Washington.
The United States supports the Afghan government, which is embroiled in a conflict with the Taliban, a hardline Islamist terrorist group that wants to take control of the country as American troops continue withdrawing.
The Taliban now controls north of 60 percent of the country, according to some estimates.
Keeping the withdrawal plan in place is one of the “difficult choices” that Biden, as president, has to make, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a press conference earlier Tuesday.
“And President Biden was very clear when he delivered his speech in May announcing his decision that after 20 years at war, it’s time for American troops to get home,” she said.
The primary mission of going to Afghanistan in the first place was delivering justice to those who attacked the United States in 2001, which was achieved some years ago, she added.
“Ultimately, our view is that the Afghan national security defense forces has the equipment, numbers, and training to fight back, which will strengthen their position at the negotiating table. We believe there’s a political process. That’s the only process that will successfully bring peace and stability to Afghanistan,” she said.