U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin indicated that “we have four ongoing key tasks [in Afghanistan]. We remain committed to protecting our diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and to providing funding to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, and to advising Afghan security ministries, and to preventing the reemergence of transnational terrorist organisations”. He went on to assert that “the Taliban early on committed to not providing a safe haven for Al-Qaeda. We expect for them to meet that commitment. If they want legitimacy going forward, I think that’s something that they'll have to consider… But most importantly, we will maintain the over-the-horizon capabilities to be able to address this threat or any threat if it emerges”. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley acknowledged: “Strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban. The Afghan Security Forces, though, are consolidating their forces”. “There’s a possibility of a negotiated outcome that’s still out there”, Milley posited. “There’s a possibility of a complete Taliban takeover or a possibility of any number of other scenarios – breakdowns, warlordism, all kinds of other scenarios that are out there”.
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