Afghanistan's military "will certainly collapse" without some continued American support once all U.S. troops are withdrawn, the top U.S. general for the Middle East told Congress Thursday.
FRANK MCKENZIE: We are continuing to plan for a full withdrawal of US and Coalition troops from Afghanistan at the direction of the president, and in concert with our NATO allies and other partners. We will conduct that withdrawal in a deliberate and expeditious manner, while ensuring the safety of our troops. I would advise the Taliban that we will be well prepared to defend ourselves throughout the withdrawal process.
I also testified on our planning to conduct over-the-horizon counter-terrorism operations should they be required. I'll restate now what I've said in testimony. Those operations will be harder, but not impossible. Be very clear, we do plan to continue support to the Afghan military. It will just be more difficult to do that support. It will not necessarily involve people in place on the ground in Afghanistan. But that support will continue.
It is our intention also to continue funding the Afghan military, and that will be administered through the platform that will be our embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The exact contour, scale, and scope of that entity are still being worked out right now. But it is our intention to continue that support. And we believe that it will be a tough fight for the Afghans, but we intend to continue to support them.
We're examining alternatives to assist the Afghans in their maintenance effort from a distance. I don't want to minimize that problem or look at it to make it appear easier than it's going to be. We're certainly going to try to do everything we can from distant locations to assist the Afghans as they maintain the aircraft and the other platforms that will be essential for the fight ahead of them.