Afghan troops collapse without US support

Washington-Afghanistan’s troops will “certainly collapse” after all US troops withdraw without continuing US support, the US Supreme General in the Middle East told Congress Thursday. General Frank Mackenzie also said he was very concerned about the Afghan government’s ability to protect the US embassy in Kabul.

“My concern is Afghanistan’s ability to maintain the ground,” said Mackenzie, head of the United States Central Command, when the United States withdrew all troops, maintaining the aircraft without US assistance and financial support. He said it was possible to continue flying. .. Later, at a Pentagon press conference, Mackenzie said the United States would look for a “remote television method” to help Afghan security forces maintain aircraft without having Americans in the country. Said.

“We certainly intend to do everything we can to support Afghanistan from a distance, as Afghanistan maintains the aircraft and other platforms that are essential to their previous battle,” the general said. I did. He added later. “We’re going to try all sorts of innovative methods. One thing I can say is that we’re not going to be on earth with them.”

Protecting the U.S. Embassy is paramount in his testimony, “whether the future government of Afghanistan can do that after we leave is a big concern for me.” Said.

Mackenzie, following President Joe Biden’s orders last week, to elaborate to lawmakers the urgent challenges facing U.S. forces moving to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11 1 Spent a week. Walking along the watchful lines, the general painted a disastrous picture of the road ahead, avoiding any opposition to Biden’s decision.

US officials have revealed that the military commander did not recommend a complete unconditional withdrawal ordered by Biden. Military leaders have consistently insisted on drawdowns based on the state’s security situation, and withdrawing troops by a certain date would relieve pressure on the Taliban and U.S. He said it would weaken the leverage.

Still, Mr. Mackenzie said the Biden administration’s “intentional and systematic” withdrawal debate was “reassuring,” with former President Donald Trump’s tendency to make a sudden military withdrawal decision and announce it in a tweet. Implicitly showed in contrast.

At public and private meetings with lawmakers, McKenzie pressured how to prevent terrorist groups from re-establishing in Afghanistan after the United States continued to put pressure on the Taliban and the United States and its coalition partners left. It was called. The United States has more than 2,500 troops in the country. The NATO coalition said it would follow the same schedule to withdraw more than 7,000 Allied troops.

He told the Senate Armed Services Commission on Thursday that it would take “much longer” than four hours to get an armed drone or other aircraft into and out of Afghanistan to provide overhead surveillance or anti-terrorism strikes when the military leaves the country. I said it would be. He said it would require far more aircraft than he is currently using.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke at NATO earlier this month, stating that the United States will continue to support Afghanistan after the withdrawal. “We aim to continue to fund key capabilities such as the Afghan Air Force and special mission forces and continue to pay salaries to Afghan security forces,” he said.

Austin et al. Said that the United States would maintain its ability to combat terrorists in Afghanistan, but with few details, authorities said they had not yet obtained a diplomatic agreement on the basis of any of the neighboring countries.

Mackenzie refused to provide details during the public session.

He said there was still no decision on how large a diplomatic delegation would be left at the US Embassy in the capital of Afghanistan, and whether it would include a security cooperation office. He said these decisions could reflect how the United States secures the defense of the embassy. Marines often provide security at other embassies around the world.

Senators diverged on the withdrawal, with cross-border comments from the party. Some lawmakers wondered if the United States could prevent the Taliban from allowing the resurrection of Afghan terrorist groups attempting to attack the United States. Others asked if the United States could properly explain how the Afghan government spends US money.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) said there were concerns that the withdrawal of the United States could create a gap in the countries filled by China, Russia, or Iran. However, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Argued that the United States’ presence in Afghanistan over the past decade has not improved much. She said the government was still corrupt and the Taliban had more control over the country than before.

The Pentagon said it is not yet clear if US contractors will remain in the country. According to the Pentagon, the number of contractors in Afghanistan has begun to decline in the past year or so. According to the latest figures, Afghanistan has nearly 17,000 Pentagon-funded contractors, less than one-third of whom are Americans.

The total includes more than 2,800 armed and unarmed private security contractors, of which more than 1,500 are armed. Of those 1,500, about 600 are Americans.

AP National Security Correspondent Robert Burns contributed to this report.

By Lolita C. Baldor