National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Thursday that in his opinion, although intelligence gathering in Afghanistan will diminish once American forces leave, U.S. security won’t be at risk.
“What I’m saying is our ability to protect the American homeland, in my view, will not diminish. Our ability to collect intelligence on a day-to-day basis against the comings and goings of actors within Afghanistan will diminish. That’s a big difference,” Sullivan said on CNN’s “New Day.”
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that “U.S. troops as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners will be out of Afghanistan” by Sept. 11. The president said the U.S. will start pulling out from the country on May 1, 2021. (RELATED: Mike Rogers Says Biden’s Sept. 11 Withdrawal From Afghanistan ‘Is A Terrible Message To Send’)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Afghanistan Thursday to promote Biden’s withdrawal plan to the country’s leaders and Afghanistan’s apprehensive public, Fox News reported. The visit was unannounced and Blinken was reportedly assuring the country’s politicians knew that even with Biden saying U.S. soldiers are withdrawing from the country, America’s commitment is not.
The U.S. agreed with the Taliban in 2020 to remove all U.S. soldiers from the country by May 1 if the Taliban maintains their promise in the agreement to contain terrorism. It is believed that the Taliban fired rockets at a U.S. military base and a U.S-Afghan airfield in the south of Afghanistan, which violates the agreement, three U.S. military officials said, according to The New York Times in August.
“It is simply a fact that our ability to deal with a threat on the ground will change when there aren’t U.S. forces and coalition forces there, but we believe that our posture in the region will remain at a level where we can suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said although “the same level of daily intelligence” is going to be different, he noted that the intelligence community said the U.S. will have strategic foresight over “whether or not Al-Qaeda or ISIS is developing an external plotting capability.” Sullivan added that the U.S. will have the necessary resources to respond if there is a new threat from the groups.
“From our perspective, we can set up the kind of scenario in which we can protect this country without remaining at war in Afghanistan for a third decade,” Sullivan said.
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