On Wednesday, CIA Director William Burns cautioned that American ability to collect intelligence and act against extremist threats that arise in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan would diminish after the American troops’ departure.
William Burns’ testimony to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee highlighted a critical risk inherent in President Biden’s decision to pull all remaining American forces out despite Islamic State militants and Al-Qaeda’s enduring presence.
The former top diplomat, who took over as CIA chief in March, spoke hours before the President announced that all remaining U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary day of the Al-Qaeda attacks that caused the American-led invasion, September 11.
CIA Director said that when the time comes for the American military to withdraw, the United States administration’s ability to collect and act on threats will decrease. That is simply a fact.
Mr. Burns further said, however, that the American administration would retain capabilities after the troops’ removal to help them anticipate and contest any rebuilding attempt by Al-Qaeda.
A United Nations (UN) report in January 2021 said there were about five hundred Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban upheld a committed relationship with the Islamist extremist group. However, the Taliban disprove there are any Al-Qaeda operatives in the country.
President Biden stated America would surveil the terrorist threat, reorganize anti-terrorism capabilities and keep substantial assets in the region to respond to threats to America emerging from Afghanistan after the departure of forces.
The White House adviser on Afghanistan in Trump’s government says America would lose their ‘eyes-on’ abilities to cope with the Threat
Lloyd Austin, U.S. Defense Secretary, told a news conference at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels that there is possibly no space on the globe that America and its partners cannot reach.
But William Burns’ warning reflects many experts’ concerns that the forces’ withdrawal will leave American intelligence officers with significantly less security, confining their ability to collect timely info on the ground.
Lisa Curtis, who served as the White House adviser on Afghanistan in the Trump government, said that America would lose, principally, their eyes-on capabilities to cope with the threat. America will also no longer be able to collaborate directly with the Afghan security forces.
Curtis questioned where United States CounterTerrorism forces would be relocated outside of Afghanistan, mentioning a history of complications basing American troops in Uzbekistan and Pakistan’s most appropriate locations.
A former top CIA operations officer who served in Afghanistan, Marc Polymeropoulos, said that spy agencies rely on American troops for critical support like medical evacuation and security.
He said that the idea that the intelligence community can stay with the American military left? Even he does not see how that is possible. He added that they are almost going to a pre-9/11 collection posture in Afghanistan, which did not turn out well.
He warned that the matter of dealing with new threats would worsen if, as some American officials and experts fear, a full-scale civil war erupts after the withdrawal of the American forces because Afghan intelligence and special forces will be struggling for their survival.