General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that it is “possible” the U.S. will coordinate with the Taliban to carry out future counterterrorism operations against ISIS-K in Afghanistan at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sounded less sure.
While Austin acknowledged that the U.S. had worked with the Taliban to evacuate American citizens and Afghans, he noted that that coordination was “on a very narrow set of issues and it was just to get as many people out as we possibly could.”
“I would not make any leaps of logic to broader issues,” he said.
Milley then stepped in to say of the Taliban, “I can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past and whether or not they change remains to be seen and as far as our dealing with them at that airfield or in the past year or so — in war you do what you must in order to reduce risk to mission and force, not necessarily what you want to do.”
Austin promised that the U.S. would hold ISIS-K responsible for the suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International airport last week, telling the press that “we’re going to do everything that we can to make sure we remain focused on ISIS-K, understand that network, and at the time of our choosing in the future hold them accountable for what they’ve done.”
The attack killed 13 U.S. troops and at least 169 Afghans who were gathered outside the airport’s Abbey Gate last Thursday. It made for the deadliest single day for American troops in the war since 2011.
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