As US and coalition troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by 11 September, the commander of US Central Command (USCENTCOM), US Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, said on 20 April that the Pentagon is looking at “offshore, over-the-horizon options” to conduct counter-terrorism activities in the Central Asian country, if required.
Testifying before the US House Armed Services Committee, the commander said that some of the US troops still in Afghanistan will remain “in the region”, adding that he is currently deciding how the United States will be able to conduct counter-terrorism activities in the area without having a military presence in Afghanistan.
”I’m actually conducting detailed planning, by the direction of the Secretary [of Defense], to look at those options right now. I will report back to him by the end of the month [April] with some alternatives,” he noted.
Gen McKenzie said that if a crisis arises in Afghanistan following the pull-out and the US needs to “go back in”, there are three things the US military will need to do: ”You need to find the target, you need to fix the target, and you need to be able to finish the target,” he said.
”The first two require heavy intelligence support, and if you’re out of the country and you don’t have the ecosystem that we have there now, it will be harder to do that. It is not impossible … it will just be harder to do it,” said the commander.