Observing that Afghans have the capability to provide for the security of their people, General Lloyd Austin, Commander of the US Central Command, on Tuesday told lawmakers that they still need some help with sustainment.
“The Afghans have the capability to provide for the security of their people and they demonstrate this on a daily basis. However, they do still need some help with sustainment; and, that includes resupply operations, particularly to remote or mountainous areas,” Gen Austin told members of House Armed Services Committee during Congressional hearing.
They need help with fixed-wing and rotary-wing aviation; and also with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support. Additionally, due to the delay in government formation, some key leaders who will see the Afghans through the upcoming fighting seasons have only recently assumed their new positions, he said.
“We will need to work closely with them to enable their success and aid them in building additional needed military capacity. We cannot afford for Afghanistan to once again become a safe haven for extremist groups. Increased instability and diminished security would not only affect Afghanistan, but also the Central Asia region as a whole,” the general said.
He also told lawmakers that the United States will maintain a unilateral capacity to conduct counter-terrorism operations against high-value targets and groups in the region. “We will maintain a unilateral capacity to conduct CT operations against high-value targets and groups in the region that pose a threat to the US or our core national interests,” Austin said.
Violent extremist organizations, to include the remnants of core al-Qaeda (AQ), continue to operate in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and, to a lesser extent, parts of eastern Afghanistan, he said.
These groups threaten regional stability, plan attacks against the US and partner interests, and pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Of note, the Taliban insurgency continues to present a credible threat to the Afghan government, he added.