Rocket fire hits air base in Afghanistan amid start of US troop withdrawal

Last month, President Joe Biden announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, and events that took place on the ground there over the weekend are calling the wisdom of that decision into question.

According to the Washington Times, rocket strikes were launched Saturday on a U.S. air base in Kandahar, and forces were compelled to return fire, a situation that prompted chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, to warn of “bad possible outcomes” that could come once Biden’s planned troop withdrawal is completed.

In response to the assault on the air base, U.S. forces conducted a precision strike on forces believed to be plotting additional attacks in the area. While the Pentagon did not directly point the finger of blame at the Taliban, that group is widely thought to be responsible, the Times noted.

The outlet also reported that the weekend saw additional threats from Taliban officials to initiate attacks on American forces who remain in the region beyond May 1, the previous withdrawal deadline that was brokered in a deal between the group and former President Donald Trump early last year.

Gen. Milley’s remarks were in line with criticisms of Biden’s plan reportedly lobbed by a number of senior military officials and retired commanders, and he told reporters on Sunday that “there’s a range of scenarios here, a range of outcomes, a range of possibilities,” with some of them being “really dramatic, bad possible outcomes.”

As Fox News reported, the ranks of those concerned about a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan include none other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who warned about the potential for “huge consequences” stemming from such a move.

During an interview on CNN, Clinton acknowledged that Biden’s was “a very difficult decision,” and that the situation in Afghanistan represents “what we call a wicked problem” that brings “consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and leaving.” She specifically warned of a possible collapse of the capital city of Kabul and a subsequent Taliban takeover which could bring about a resurgence in terrorist activity all over the world.

Clinton added that “these two huge sets of issues have got to be addressed,” stating that “it’s one thing to pull out troops that have been supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afgan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself. But we can’t afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision,” as Fox News noted.

Despite the growing number of highly-placed officials casting doubt on the advisability of a full troop withdrawal by early autumn, President Biden is holding firm to his decision, explaining during a speech to a joint session of Congress last week that what he referred to as a “forever war” in Afghanistan was not meant to be “a multigenerational undertaking of nation-building.” Time will tell whether he is making the right call.