More US troops could be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months to “help” in the withdrawal process, the Pentagon said on Friday.
Since President Biden broke the US-Taliban peace deal by pushing the withdrawal deadline back to September, the chances of attacks against US forces in Afghanistan starting again are high. The idea is that the US might need additional forces or weapons to protect the troops that are leaving.
“It is not out of the realm of the possible that for a short period of time, there will have to be some additional enabling capabilities added to Afghanistan to help effect a safe, orderly and deliberately planned drawdown of everybody by the president’s deadline by early September,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing.
Kirby recognized the threats by the Taliban and warned the group against attacking the US. “We’ve seen their threats, and it would be imprudent for us not to take those threats seriously,” he said. “Any attack on our drawdown, on our forces or our allies and partners, … will be met very forcefully.”
The Taliban released a statement on Thursday that said President Biden’s decision was a “clear violation” of the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in Doha last year and hinted that it means the US would again be targeted. “Now as the agreement is being breached by America, it in principle opens the way for the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate to take every necessary countermeasure,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, local Taliban commanders speaking to The Daily Beast made more forceful threats and said they are ready to attack the US if troops stay beyond May 1st, warning they could turn the final months of the war into a “nightmare” for the Americans.
February 8th marked the first full year that no US troops died in combat in Afghanistan. Biden’s decision to push back the deadline does nothing for the peace process and only puts US troops at risk of being killed.
It’s also possible that the Taliban might wait and see if the US is serious about withdrawing before it starts attacking troops. Sending US additional forces to the region to “help” the withdrawal could send the wrong signal and spark more violence.