President Biden unilaterally extended the withdrawal period of the 2020 US-Taliban peace deal, announcing last week that the pullout of US forces would start in May and be completed by September. The Islamist militia has ominously warned that “problems” would “be compounded” if US and NATO troops did not pull out by the previously agreed deadline.
US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie expressed concerns on Thursday that the Afghan military has become highly dependent on American assistance, and that a pullout of US troops could endanger the former’s ability to continue holding their territories or even cause the government to collapse.
“My concern is the ability of the Afghan military to hold the ground that they’re on now without the support that they’ve been used to for so many years,” McKenzie, the effective head of US forces in the Middle East, said, speaking before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC.
“I am concerned about the ability of the Afghan military to hold on after we leave, the ability of the Afghan Air Force to fly, in particular, after we remove the support for those aircraft,” he added.
At the same time, McKenzie said he “strongly” supported Biden’s decision to withdraw, and suggested that “we should have learned by now that a conditions-based withdrawal is just a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.” He added, however, that he continues to believe that the invasion of Afghanistan…