Politics|Pentagon Leaders Wary of Working With Taliban
Cooperation with the radical successful warring an Islamic State affiliate is “possible,” the president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Sept. 1, 2021, 6:35 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Just implicit a time aft the past American work subordinate near Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s apical 2 leaders expressed wariness connected Wednesday astir continuing to cooperate with Taliban leaders who helped supply harmless transition to much than 124,000 radical evacuated retired of the country.
“We were moving with the Taliban connected a precise constrictive acceptable of issues,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters. “I would not marque immoderate leaps of logic to broader issues. It’s hard to foretell wherever this volition spell successful the aboriginal with respect to the Taliban.”
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was much blunt successful his appraisal of the Taliban, which took power of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, 2 weeks agone aft rapidly advancing crossed the country. American commanders person praised Taliban leaders for their practice during the evacuation of Americans and their Afghan allies during the war.
“This is simply a ruthless group,” said General Milley, who commanded troops successful Afghanistan. “Whether oregon not they alteration remains to beryllium seen. In war, you bash what you must.”
Asked if the U.S. subject would cooperate with the Taliban successful warring the Islamic State Khorasan, oregon ISIS-K, the radical that claimed work for past week’s attack that killed 13 American troops and much than 170 Afghans, General Milley said, “It’s possible.”
General Milley besides defended an Air Force drone onslaught connected Sunday that the subject says destroyed a car filled with explosives that posed an “imminent” menace to the evacuation operation. Afghans connected the crushed accidental it killed astatine slightest 10 people, including 7 children.
Pentagon officials accidental they are investigating the reports of civilians deaths, but General Milley said the subject had “very bully intelligence” that ISIS-K was preparing a circumstantial conveyance astatine a circumstantial determination to beryllium utilized to onslaught the airport.
He said secondary explosions aft the drone onslaught supported the military’s decision that the car contained explosives, adding that subject planners took the due precautions earlier the onslaught to bounds risks to civilians nearby.
“At this point, we deliberation the procedures were correctly followed, and this was a righteous strike,” General Milley said.
The Pentagon leaders said the ngo successful Afghanistan had shifted to a diplomatic effort, led by the State Department, to evacuate immoderate remaining Americans oregon eligible Afghans who privation to permission the country.
The Biden medication has pledged to proceed efforts to bring much radical retired of the country, but has travel nether unit to enactment faster. U.S. officials judge that less than 200 American citizens stay successful Afghanistan, on with galore thousands of Afghans who assisted the United States implicit the past 2 decades.
“The full Biden administration’s highest precedence should beryllium getting each American citizens and Afghan partners retired of this disastrous and unsafe concern they created — they made commitments to these radical and indispensable travel done connected them,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the apical Republican connected the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Some 20,000 Afghans person arrived astatine 8 subject bases successful the United States, wherever they are acceptable to implicit processing for resettlement crossed the country. But astir 43,000 Afghans are inactive successful transit on way-stops successful the Middle East and Europe. The pipeline could instrumentality weeks oregon adjacent a fewer months to clear, U.S. officials say.
Mr. Austin pointedly said the State Department’s Special Interest Visa program, known arsenic S.I.V., was sick equipped to woody with the avalanche of Afghans who sought to fly their country.
Though the programme was utilized to evacuate thousands of Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who worked and fought alongside American troops, ultimately, thousands of different Afghans astatine hazard of reprisals by the Taliban were evacuated nether little cumbersome mechanisms.
“For the benignant of cognition that we conscionable conducted, I deliberation we request a antithetic benignant of capability,” Mr. Austin said.
Mr. Austin and General Milley, some four-star Army combat veterans of Afghanistan, utilized the quality league to explicit their gratitude to the 800,000 American work members who served successful the 20-year war. “Your work mattered, and it was not successful vain,” Mr. Austin said.
Michael Crowley contributed reporting.