US military officials advised Biden to leave ‘residual counter-terrorism force’ in Afghanistan

US military officials advised Biden to leave ‘residual counter-terrorism force’ in Afghanistan
Senior US military leaders reportedly believe there could be a resurgence of Al-Qaeda or that the Taliban could take Kabul.
2 min read
19 April, 2021
Joe Biden will withdraw the US' remaining troops in Afghanistan on 11 September [Getty]

US military leaders advised against Joe Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal plan and suggested that a "residual counter-terrorism force" remain there, The Washington Post reported.

Sources told the paper that three top generals - Mark Milley, Frank McKenzie and Austin Miller - backed further time for negotiations, a conditions-based withdrawal, or at a minimum leaving behind a counter-terror presence.

They cautioned that a refugee crisis, the Taliban taking control of the capital, Kabul, and a resurgent Al-Qaeda were all genuine risks.

Read more: As clock ticks, Biden's peace plan risks alienating Afghanistan's rival powers

Insiders told The Washington Post that Lloyd Austin, Biden's defence secretary, also backed keeping a US contingent in Afghanistan.

They added that Austin was influenced by his experiences serving with the US Army.

He was the US' commanding general in Iraq during Obama's speedy 2011 withdrawal.

In 2014, the so-called Islamic State group took Mosul and large swathes of Iraq and Syria, beginning its genocide of the Yazidi people with the Sinjar massacre.

Biden moved the date for the last 2,500 troops to pull out of Afghanistan to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 11 September terror attacks which spawned the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

Joe Biden decided last week to keep US forces from Afghanistan beyond the 1 May deadline set by the Trump administration.

Questioned as to whether the decision to withdraw was soldiers was "easy" by journalists at the Arlington National Cemetery, Biden said: "To me, it was absolutely clear."

"I'm the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a war zone," he subsequently added in the White House’s Treat Room.

Biden promised during his 2020 election campaign that he would "end the war responsibly" so that US forces never need to return.

He had also suggested at the time a counter-terrorism force could remain.

Meanwhile, efforts to achieve peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban are still ongoing.

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