Trump ordered the Pentagon to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by May 1st or less than three weeks from now, but Trump's deadline was never considered practical and was also based on conditions that could keep American forces in the country even longer.
The Biden administration reviewed the Trump-era policy and concluded that beginning a phased withdrawal with a more hard deadline was the best way to avoid a new phase of war.
From the Washington Post:
“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” the person familiar with the deliberations said. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”
“We’re going to zero troops by September.”
Unlike Trump's May 1st deadline that no one one believed we could meet, Biden administration officials say his order to withdraw by September 11th is not based on conditions; meaning it's going to happen regardless of what else happens between now and then.
I suppose you could say Trump got the ball rolling by calling with a withdrawal, but no previous president has committed to withdrawing without conditions. You may recall than when President Obama considered it, conservative critics and warhawks said that setting a hard deadline would give our enemies too many advantages. They said it would tell the Taliban they could just wait us out.
But you know what? They're going to do that in any case. It is their home country, after all, not ours. And I'm not sure if there's even any appetite to criticize Biden for setting a hard deadline at this point. Some might criticize him for taking too long.
It is actually staggering to consider and reflect on the fact that we've been in Afghanistan for 20 years. I was 17 years old when we deployed forces to Afghanistan. There are veterans of the initial deployment with children who are old enough to serve in the same ongoing conflict. But the conflict has never been front and center for most people outside of the military or their friends and family. The war in Afghanistan has largely been background noise that most Americans could safely ignore to the detriment of the millions who served there over the past two decades.
One of my closest friends was wounded in Afghanistan all the way back in 2005 and he still struggles with the anniversary of it every year. Sometimes I feel like I know what it means to have personal demons because I'm a transgender woman, but I'm still humbled because I know his are worse. I've never been shot and watched my friends die in combat. The worst or most tragic part is he feels like a burden because of his emotional wounds in a world where the average person doesn't even think about it.