Retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis raised security concerns over the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan as the US began its final withdrawal on Thursday.
“We only have 2,500 American troops left, a very small number,” Starvridis said. “I think it is still an opportunity to put pressure on the Taliban to reach a political settlement, and I am concerned that a Taliban withdrawal will lead to a collapse of the Afghan security forces.”
President Joe Biden decided to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 after two decades of US military intervention in the country. The Trump administration originally promised to get out of the war-torn country by May 1, but Biden pushed the date back.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice reportedly said they were concerned about Biden’s withdrawal plan. Reis even went so far as to suggest that the US may have to return at some point in the future. Stavridis agreed with Rice during a Friday night interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith”.
“Let’s remember, we went there to crush the terrorism that attacked us,” said Stavridis, the former allied chief in command of NATO. “It is entirely possible that not only the Taliban but also Al-Qaeda, today’s Islamic state, will come back. We’d better be ready to go back there if we have to.”
Starvridis told host Shepard Smith that while he understood the feeling of Afghan fatigue, it was not uncommon to keep US troops overseas. He found that there are 35,000 soldiers stationed in South Korea and 50,000 soldiers in Europe.
Stavridis suggested keeping between 3,000 and 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan to “keep up what we did” and “avoid a resurgence of terrorism that could hit us again”.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.