In an interview, Gen. Kenneth Frank McKenzie promised Al-Qaeda and Islami State terrorist groups would be kept under pressure.
Speaking to Military Times, he talked about a variety of subjects, including the US troop withdrawal, the plight of Afghan interpreters and the future of the Middle Eastern region.
The general said he had been in consultation with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin through Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on providing \on securing the US embassy in Kabul and providing counterterrorism support from outside the country.
“The secretary is still chewing over it. We’re in a back-and-forth process, refining them, so unfortunately right now, because of that, there’s not much more I can share with you about the development of those plans.”
About threats emanating from Afghanistan after the troop pullout, he claimed Al-Qaida and ISIS wanted to attack the US, its partners as well in Europe and in other places.
The CENTCOM commander believed continued pressure on the extremist outfits had stopped them from attacks, both from Afghanistan and from Syria.
“What would concern me the most in the long term would be a future situation in Afghanistan where there wasn’t adequate pressure kept on these groups….”
Reminded of a recent UN report warning that the Taliban appeared set to wrest back control of Afghanistan, he said: “So, we’re leaving. That fact is evident to everyone and the only thing that is going to remain, if we can protect it, will be our embassy platform.
“And we still intend to support the Afghan military from just over the horizon. We’re still going to support them with funding. We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.”
He added the US would provide the Afghan forces, who were going to be tested after the American departure, televised remote advice.