Retired Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, who oversaw the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, has expressed his distrust of the Afghan Taliban. He believes that the Taliban will act in their own interests and cannot be relied upon.
McKenzie pointed out the longstanding relationship between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda, suggesting that this relationship is stronger than any potential alliance with the United States. His comments were made during an interview with CBS News on September 10, just before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which led to the U.S. launching the “War on Terror.”
He noted that one of the reasons the U.S. was in Afghanistan was to prevent the country from being used as a base for planning and executing attacks on the U.S. or its allies. McKenzie expressed concern that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan had made it more challenging to achieve these objectives.
Since retiring, McKenzie has been vocal about his opposition to both President Biden’s and President Trump’s decisions to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He had recommended leaving 25,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to maintain a presence in the region, but President Biden did not heed this advice.
Regarding the attack on Kabul airport on August 26, 2021, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. soldiers and over 150 Afghan civilians during the withdrawal, McKenzie explained that there were multiple threats being monitored. These included the possibility of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) attack, a suicide vest attack (which did occur), indirect fire attacks on the airfield, and insider attacks by individuals who could bypass security checkpoints.
While McKenzie acknowledged that the attack was a tragic mistake, the Pentagon decided in December 2021 not to punish any military personnel for the incident.