Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said a civil war could break out in Afghanistan and lead to a resurgence of terror groups like al-Qaeda now that the withdrawal of US troops is finished.
“My military estimate is … that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war,” Milley told Fox News during an interview Saturday at Ramstein airbase in Germany. “I don’t know if the Taliban is going to [be] able to consolidate power and establish governance.”
He said the terror groups could seize on the chaos in Afghanistan to establish a foothold.
“I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war and that will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups,” he told Fox News.
“You could see a resurgence of terrorism coming out of that general region within 12, 24, 36 months. And we’re going to monitor that,” Milley continued.
The general was in Germany to thank troops from the US European Command for helping to erect a massive tent city at the airport to process the thousands of Afghans who are heading to the US.
“What they’re doing as people come in, they’re getting their names registered. They’re doing the biometrics. They check their irises. They do their fingerprints. They take a full facial photo,” he explained, pointing out that officials with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, State Department, Customs and Border Protection, and United States Agency for International Development are involved.
Milley said he is “very comfortable” with the security measures taken in regards to the Afghan refugees – adding that about 30,000 individuals have already been processed.
He did note that US intelligence gathering in Afghanistan will be hindered now that the US withdrawal is complete.
“We’ll have to reestablish some human intelligence networks, etc.,” Milley told Fox News.
“And then as opportunities present themselves, we’ll have to continue to conduct strike operations if there’s a threat to the United States.”
Asked about President Biden saying the US would have to use “over horizon” capabilities like airstrikes instead of boots-on-the-ground to counter-terrorism, Milley said “it’s possible.”
But, he said, “we’re going to have to maintain very, very intense levels of indicators and warnings and observation and ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] over that entire region.”