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Tags: frank mckenzie | centcom | troops | afghanistan | withdrawal

Retired CENTCOM Chief: Some Troops Should Have Stayed in Afghanistan

central command gen. kenneth mckenzie at a senate armed services hearing
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., speaks with U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and Gen. Stephen Townsend before the start of a Senate Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill March 15, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

By    |   Sunday, 28 August 2022 02:58 PM EDT

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, who was ordered to execute the withdrawal from Afghanistan one year ago, said Sunday that what happened "was not preordained," as there were "alternatives that were not taken," including leaving a significant NATO presence of about 2,500 troops to support the Afghan government and keep it from falling to the Taliban. 

"That would have given us the capability to remain in the country, to continue to pursue our counterterrorism objectives, and we believe to avoid the collapse of the Afghan government," McKenzie, the 14th commander of U.S. Central Command from March 28, 2019, to April 1 of this year, said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "We did not choose to do that.

"Subsequently, after we made the decision to go to zero, the decision to try to maintain an embassy platform until far too late contributed also to what happened in August."

He added that he advised against withdrawing, as "we had the opportunity to remain in the country with a small force."

"I realize the Taliban could very well have chosen to attack us, but I do not believe based on intelligence I was reading at the time that they would have been forced to add more forces in order to maintain a 2,500 force level in Afghanistan," said McKenzie. "It remains my position that we had the opportunity to stay and keep the government of Afghanistan running."

It had been a "consistent position" of Central Command and its subordinates in Afghanistan that if the troops were pulled, Kabul would collapse, but at one point, "we thought it might be a question of weeks."

However, as the summer progressed and the "government of Afghanistan proved unable to marshal its will and its forces to defend its country," the timeline accelerated, but "this was not a particular surprise to us."

Biden justified his decision based on statements that al-Qaida was out of the country, but McKenzie said the military's position was that the terrorist organization was there because the Taliban was hosting it, and ISIS remains a presence as well. 

"Both of those entities have a long-term aspirational goal to attack us in our homeland and given the breathing room to reestablish themselves and reassert their strength, we believe they will do that," he said.

Meanwhile, both Biden and his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, wanted troops out of Afghanistan, and even if they had nothing else in common, they shared that view, said McKenzie. 

"You had a continuity of objectives across two administrations that allowed the events to occur in the manner that they did," he said. 

The Doha Agreement for bringing peace to Afghanistan had the potential to be useful, said McKenzie, but it was "evident pretty early on" that Taliban did not live up to its side of the pact."

The retired general also discussed the situation in Syria, including a refugee camp that is filled with the families of ISIS fighters, and said there are concerns that children will be radicalized there and will reappear as ISIS fighters themselves in five or 10 years.

Further, he said it must be decided if it is worth the risk to keep U.S. troops in Syria. 

"If we were to pull out, it is unclear to me what would first of all help the Kurds maintain the camp, and second, who would [control] the prison structure in eastern Syria, which holds many hardened ISIS fighters," said McKenzie. 

Finally, he warned against the United States resigning the Iran nuclear deal, as doing so would give the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps "added funding to further support their destabilizing and malign activities across the region."

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Politics
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, who was ordered to execute the withdrawal from Afghanistan one year ago, said Sunday that what happened "was not preordained," as there were "alternatives that were not taken."
frank mckenzie, centcom, troops, afghanistan, withdrawal
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2022-58-28
Sunday, 28 August 2022 02:58 PM
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