Kabul: Even as there is a growing concern from global players and experts that there will be vacuum in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the commander of the US Central Command has said on Wednesday that the US will never be at the mercy of groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda or the Taliban if they want to create problems and threaten US interests.
US President Joe Biden last week announced the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war and leaving the war-ravaged country to fend for itself, say experts. There are currently 3,500 troops currently in Afghanistan from the US and the central command chief said that some of them will remain in the region.
Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said during a hearing on Tuesday before the House Armed Services Committee, “I think some of the forces are going to remain in Central Command, because we are going to look at offshore, over-the-horizon options. Right now, we are figuring out how the US will be able to conduct counter-terrorism activities in the area without being in Afghanistan.”
However, McKenzie added, that if a crisis arises in Afghanistan and the US needs to go back in, there will be three things that will need to happen that the US can still do — though with more difficulty than it can do right now.
“You need to find the target, you need to fix the target and you need to be able to finish the target. So, these three things all firstly require heavy intelligence support. And if you’re out of the country and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have there now, it will be harder to do that. It is not impossible to do that. It will just be harder to do it,” he said.
For intelligence assets in the region, he said, US diplomats are working now to find new places to base them, he said.
The striking of a target will be a bigger challenger now, the General said, adding that long-range precision fires, manned raids and manned aircraft are all possibilities for strike options, if need be.
There are growing concerns that Afghanistan may become a terrorist haven after the foreign troops leave the country. The Taliban has even warned of violence when the US announced an extension of the troop withdrawal deadline to September. This comes even as the US Defence Department had stated earlier that there is likely to be an increase in the number of troops on ground to support logistically the present troops get out of the country safely.
US President Joe Biden has also reiterated that US will provide all help to the Afghan government in order to maintain peace in the country. He had also said that regional powers will have an important role to play when the foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan in order to maintain peace and stop the country from falling into the wrong hands again.