U.S Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander, General Kenneth McKenzie on Thursday expressed his concern that the Afghan military will collapse following the US and international troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He stressed that Afghanistan’s military may not hold on for longer after troops leave the country as confirmed by President Joe Biden.
“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,” McKenzie, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
The Afghan military has got used to support from the US and foreign militaries over several years, he also said that President Joe Biden consulted with him and other high-ranking military officers before the commander in chief made the call for troops to pull out.
“The president went out of the way to ensure all views were on the table”, he added, “I think we all recognize there were risks ahead that fall as a result of that decision. But I would reject the assertion that we’re out of step”.
According to Mckenzie, the US weaned the Afghan military from direct forms of supports during recent years, such as fighting side by side with them on the battleground, the recent form of US support to the Afghan military has adopted another form which is intelligence and fire support.
“All of those things are factors that will be worked out here in the next few months, and we’ll get an opportunity to see how the Afghans do,” McKenzie said.
Referring to $4 billion annual aid to Afghanistan’s military McKenzie said, “If we don’t provide them some support, they certainly will collapse” he added, “and I think that’s not in our best interest,”.
He indicated that the US plans to support the Afghan military but it will harder to do without people on the ground, he said, “we believe it will be a tough fight for Afghans, but we intend to continue to support them”.
This comes as US military commanders have asked an aircraft carrier to help protect and provide safety during the US and NATO troops’ withdrawal NBC News reported.
The aircraft carrier may be deployed in case the Taliban chooses to launch attacks on NATO troops during the withdrawal process.
According to USNI news the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carrier Air Wing 3and IKE’s escorts were operating in the Northern parts of the Arabian Sea to support operations against ISIS as part of inherent resolve.
General Kenneth McKenzie has sent a request to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to keep the carriers in the area instead of carrying operations in other regions.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government has planned to formally demand US-NATO to hand over their military equipment to the Afghan Ministry of Defense during the withdrawal process.
NATO’s Resolute Support yet commented on this matter.