CENTCOM chief warns 'very worrisome' ISIS presence in Afghanistan has 'aspirations' to attack the US

news

An Afghan National Army soldier prepares for a move at a mission support site in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, June 13, 2018

(U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Sharida Jackson)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.

A senior U.S. general says that ISIS remains a "very worrisome" presence in Afghanistan, but it is unlikely to mount an attack on the U.S. homeland because it is under strong military pressure.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, who heads the U.S. Central Command, on June 12 told reporters the extremist group "in Afghanistan certainly has aspirations to attack the United States."

"It is our clear judgment that as long as we maintain pressure on them it will be hard for them to do that," he said.


McKenzie, whose Central Command has responsibility for managing U.S. military operations across the Middle East, spoke in Germany with reporters after completing an eight-day trip to Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

The AP earlier this week quoted U.S. and Afghan security officials as saying the extremist group in Afghanistan is expanding its presence, recruiting new members, and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries.

A U.S. intelligence official based in Afghanistan told AP that a recent series of attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were "practice runs" for even bigger attacks in Europe and the United States.

Some experts said ISIS could use Afghanistan as a base for operations now that the terror group has mainly been driven from its former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

McKenzie said he did not believe IS in Afghanistan has expanded its capabilities but that it does still represent a dangerous presence in the country.

He said that "they are very worrisome to us" in their eastern Afghanistan strongholds, and added that combat operations had failed to reduce the number of fighters.

Some experts have estimated that IS still has thousands of fighters in the country.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan are battling IS fighters — a mission separate from their effort to advise and assist Afghanistan's defense forces in their battle against the Taliban militant group.

U.S. officials have been talking to Taliban representatives in Qatar, attempting to draw them into direct peace talks with the government in Kabul. The Taliban has so far refused to meet with Afghan officials, calling them puppets of the West.

IS extremists are not included in the talks, and U.S. and Afghan officials have not sought to bring them in, vowing to defeat them on the battlefield instead.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

SEE ALSO: The U.S. Just Took Out The Leader Of ISIS In Afghanistan For The Fourth Time

WATCH NEXT: On The Ground With Afghan Commandos

Soldiers from the 1-118th Field Artillery Regiment of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fire an M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in Southern Afghanistan, June 10th, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jordan Trent)

Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)

Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.

Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.

Read More
Audie Murphy (U.S. Army photo)

Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018

On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.

Read More
A Purple Heart (DoD photo)

Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Read More
Ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 transit the Pacific Ocean Jan. 22, 2020. DESRON 23, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, is on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Navy and Marine Corps need to be a bit more short-sighted when assessing how many ships they need, the acting Navy secretary said this week.

The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.

"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.

The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.

Read More
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew becomes emotional while speaking about officer Katie Thyne during a press conference Friday morning Jan. 24, 2020 in Newport News, Va. Officer Thyne died Thursday night after being dragged during a traffic stop. (Daily Press/Jonathon Gruenke via Tribune News Service)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.

Read More