Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated there may be “no query” that it will likely be “more difficult” to establish terror threats within the wake of withdrawing all U.S. army belongings from Afghanistan, however he assured that officers are working to additional develop capabilities to forestall the event of threats to the U.S. homeland.
During a press convention in Qatar, Austin acknowledged the problem after U.S. troops and intelligence belongings had been absolutely withdrawn from Afghanistan final week following a 20-year presence.
PENTAGON: ‘POSSIBLE’ US WILL WORK WITH TALIBAN AGAINST ISIS-Ok
“Well, there is no query that it will likely be more difficult to establish and interact threats that emanate from the area, however we’re dedicated to creating certain that that threats should not allowed to develop … that might create important challenges for us within the homeland,” Austin stated.
Austin went on to elucidate that the U.S. “already” has “strong capabilities within the area” however stated it seems to “enhance them every day.
“We’re going to proceed to do this,” he stated, including that the U.S. has “come a great distance within the final 20 years when it comes to the event of our capabilities.”
“There is not a scrap of earth that we won’t attain out and contact when we have to,” Austin stated. “We’ve demonstrated that point, and time once more, and once more.”
He added: “Our job is to verify we keep vigilant and proceed to develop capabilities.”
President Biden final week additionally pointed to U.S. capabilities – past having U.S. troops on the bottom.
Biden stated the U.S. doesn’t have to struggle a floor warfare however as a substitute has “over-the-horizon capabilities, which suggests we are able to strike terrorist targets with out American boots on the bottom, or only a few, if wanted.”
In phrases of already-identified terror threats, the Biden administration has stated ISIS-Ok poses an ongoing and “energetic” menace.
Last week, high Pentagon officers stated it’s “doable” that the U.S. will work with the Taliban in opposition to ISIS-Ok in Afghanistan whereas warning that the Taliban are a “ruthless group from the previous.”
Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was requested about the way forward for the Taliban, to which he replied: “I can inform you from private experiences that it is a ruthless group from the previous, and whether or not or not they alter stays to be seen.”
WHITE HOUSE SAYS THERE ARE ‘ACTIVE’ ISIS THREATS IN AFGHANISTAN, AS ‘CLOSER TO 100’ AMERICANS REMAIN
“And so far as our dealings with them at that airfield, or previously yr or so, in warfare, you do what you have to with the intention to cut back threat to mission and power, not essentially what you wish to do,” Milley continued.
When requested whether or not there was any potential of coordination between the U.S. and the Taliban in opposition to ISIS-Ok, Milley stated: “It’s doable.”
Austin added that the Pentagon is doing “every little thing” it will probably to “stay targeted on ISIS-Ok,” noting that “within the time of our selecting, sooner or later, we are going to maintain them accountable for what they’ve finished.”
ISIS-Ok claimed accountability for the assault that killed 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghan residents final month.
As for vetting of those that have been evacuated from Afghanistan, the White House stated intelligence and counterterrorism officers had been “working across the clock” to “vet all Afghans” earlier than permitting them to enter the United States.
The White House stated these with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) and susceptible Afghans had been flown to 3rd international locations in Europe and Asia that had agreed to “function transit hubs” earlier than present process “strong safety screening and flying to the U.S.”
The screening course of for these people, in keeping with the White House, concerned “biometric and biographic safety opinions performed by our intelligence, regulation enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals.”
The White House additionally stated all Afghans could be examined for COVID-19 upon arrival to the U.S. and provided vaccines and stated U.S. army bases are “prepared” to soak up SIV candidates and different susceptible Afghans for medical screenings, well being care providers and different help.
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Meanwhile, a well-placed U.S. diplomatic supply instructed Fox News that people who’ve been flagged within the vetting course of will probably be despatched to Camp Bondsteel – the U.S. Army’s essential base in Kosovo.
The supply instructed Fox News that a number of people have already been despatched to Kosovo.
The supply added, although, that the U.S. authorities can solely maintain detainees for one yr at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo primarily based on the agreements with the host authorities. It is unclear the place these people will go following additional screening on the base.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.