CENTCOM Commander Vows To Support Afghan Forces Even After Withdrawal

Kabul: General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the CENTCOM commander, in an interview with the Military Times, said that the US will continue to support the Afghan security forces and will keep on putting pressure on the adversaries to ensure that they do not attack US from the region.

For the past 20 years, US Central Command has been the busiest of the US military’s geographically arrayed headquarters, but even with the end of the American commitment of troops on the ground in Afghanistan, a reduced presence in Iraq and an overall US shift to countering China and Russia, CENTCOM oversees a restive region that will continue to warrant attention.

On realistic threats emanating from Afghanistan after withdrawal, MzKenzie said that there is a high degree of certainty that Al-Qaeda and IS-K, both have aspirations to attack the United States. “We believe that what has prevented these attacks from being developed from Afghanistan is the pressure that’s been put on these groups. So, what would concern me the most in the long term would be a future situation in Afghanistan where there wasn’t adequate pressure kept on these groups. Then, they would certainly rebuild, restrengthen themselves, and attack us in our homeland,” he added.

On the future, McKenzie said that the US still intends to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. “We’re still going to support them with funding. We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon and we will do some televised remote advising with them as we go forward. We will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Taliban again reiterated on Saturday that it would be “unacceptable” to them and a “mistake” on the part of any nation to retain a military presence in Afghanistan to guard airports or other installations after the departure of US-led NATO troops from the warn-torn country.

The Taliban vowed to resist deployment of any foreign military in the country after all international forces leave. “The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for us,” the insurgent group said.

The Taliban insisted that security of airports, foreign embassies and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.

“If anyone does make such a mistake, the Afghan people and the Taliban shall view them as occupiers and shall take a stance against them as they have taken against invaders throughout history,” the statement said.

Stoltenberg said the security of the Kabul airport and other “critical” infrastructure” would be discussed at Monday’s NATO summit in Brussels. “Because this is important not only for NATO but … for the whole international community, for a diplomatic presence of all countries, and of course, also for development aid and different aid organizations. So, NATO allies are addressing these issues as we speak,” he said.

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