Pentagon preparing for Taliban attacks during US withdrawal

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FILE- in this Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017, photo, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks during a ceremony on Christmas Eve at a U.S. airfield in Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. military has begun shipping equipment and winding down contracts with local service providers ahead of the May 1 start of the final phase of its military pullout from Afghanistan, a U.S. Defense Department official said Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is preparing for the possibility of Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition forces during a withdrawal from Afghanistan. This prospect complicates the outlook for winding down America’s longest war.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said, “We have to assume that this drawdown will be opposed.” He was explaining why Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decided to keep an aircraft carrier in the Middle East during the pullout and to move Army Rangers and at least four B-52 bombers to Afghanistan as a precaution. The Taliban have not said publicly whether they intend to interfere with the pullout.

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