General directing Afghanistan withdrawal warns of possible Taliban push for power
The top U.S. general in charge of pulling troops from Afghanistan believes the security situation in the country is “not good” as American service members leave Afghan forces to fight the Taliban alone, he told ABC News.
“I think what you’re seeing, just if you look at the security situation, it’s not good,” Gen. Scott Miller said during an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Kabul. “The Afghans have recognized it’s not good. The Taliban are on the move.”
The Taliban, who have quickly taken control of dozens of districts since U.S. forces began to leave in April, have created conditions that “won’t look good for Afghanistan in the future if there is a push for a military takeover,” Miller said.
“The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has to be concerning,” Miller added. “As you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don’t want to have happen is that the people lose hope, and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them.”
The United States is more than halfway complete in withdrawing the last of the roughly 3,500 American troops from Afghanistan since President Biden ordered an end to the 20-year conflict in April.
U.S. officials reportedly believe withdrawal could be completed as soon as early July, well ahead of Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline.
But reports have also emerged that U.S. intelligence agencies assess the Afghan government could fall as soon as six months after the U.S. forces leave.
About 650 U.S. troops are expected to stay in the country to provide security at the U.S. Embassy, and Biden administration officials have said the U.S. military will continue to give Afghan forces financial support and assistance for its air force maintenance crews.
But Pentagon officials have indicated the United States will no longer provide defensive airstrikes, with Miller telling ABC News it will “be discussed as we move forward.”
“I think we need to see how that lands,” he said.
Miller also said as more troops and equipment leave Afghanistan “there’s less and less I can directly offer [Afghan forces] in terms of assistance. So that’s hard.”
He said Afghanistan’s defense minister has sometimes asked him for assistance U.S. forces were able to provide in the past and “there’s points where I have to tell him I won’t be able to do that.”