The US may begin training Afghan forces in third-party countries after it withdraws from the war-torn country, the top US general said on Thursday.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told reporters at the Pentagon it is “possible” that training could be held in different countries as the drawdown continues but military planners “haven’t figured that out 100% yet.”
“There’s a lot of different options out there, and we haven’t settled on one of them yet,” said Milley. “When we get some finalized plans put together we’ll bring those to the secretary for approval.”
Milley was referring to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The US military said earlier this week that the process to fully withdraw all 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by US President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline is 6% complete.
Milley maintained the US is intent on keeping its embassy in Kabul open after the drawdown is complete. That would necessitate US service members to remain on site for security, a role typically held by US Marines who are tasked with protecting Washington’s diplomatic facilities worldwide.
Amid stalled peace negotiations, Afghanistan has been witnessing intensifying violence since Biden announced on April 16 that American troops would be withdrawn later this year.
The Taliban ramped up its offensive against government forces following the start of intra-Afghan peace talks in September and has been blamed for a nationwide campaign of targeted killings that has left scores of Afghanistan’s civil society members, journalists and medical professionals dead.
Milley said it is “not a foregone conclusion” that the Taliban defeats government forces following the US military’s departure, noting Afghan forces “have been leading the fight for several years now.”
“The Afghan security forces can fight, and they’re fighting for their own country now,” he said.