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Explosions outside the Kabul airport killed a number of U.S. service members and caused civilian casualties. The escalation of violence has complicated the Biden administration’s plan to evacuate those remaining in Afghanistan.

  • Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said there is no way to totally ensure there will not be acts of terrorism during an evacuation, but there will be stronger perimeters to secure the airport than there were before the incident.
  • Cordesman said the explosions are a warning of a transition to a “very unstable Afghanistan” and said the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) is a much more extreme group than the Taliban in some ways.
  • Cordesman said the United States and other countries are trying to rush citizens out and work around the airport entrance but that there are few alternatives.
  • Cordesman said the U.S. can prepare for contingencies by using helicopters to bring people in, extending some aspects of defenses near gates, putting more people on the perimeter and providing unmanned reconnaissance.
  • Cordesman said many of the United States’ strategic partners will question the value of American security guarantees as the crisis continues.
  • The Pentagon can try to locate centers of operation for groups like ISIS-K and target specific leaders, but these efforts require time and caution, said Cordesman.
  • Cordesman said the U.S. spent so much time trying to justify its aid efforts that it often did not tell the truth about the progress the Taliban were making.
  • Cordesman said the U.S. did not succeed in the civil dimension of creating a system where people feel secure.
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