Adam Smith, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee, said he had discussed the issue of US troop pullout with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Reuters quoted Smith as telling an online Foreign Policy magazine forum on Wednesday: “I think there’s a general feeling that May 1 is too soon, just logistically. We’ve got … closer to 3,500 troops in Afghanistan. Our allies have around 7,000.”
He said 10,000-plus troops could not be withdrawn in any way in six weeks. The administration’s priority was talking to the Taliban on allowing the US-led force to stay in Afghanistan a little longer.
If the Taliban insisted on the exit of all foreign forces, the lawmaker said, “I don’t see that we have much choice but to leave.” The counter-terrorism forces would also leave the war-torn country, he opined.
Smith added: “What the Biden administration wants to do is negotiate past May 1 and then at least explore the option: Has the Taliban changed their mind as they … are fighting ISIS almost as much as they are fighting the Afghan government?”
According to the US Department of Defense, about 10,000 international troops, including 2,500 US soldiers, are currently stationed in Afghanistan.
The US had not yet completed its review of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told journalists on Tuesday.