UPDATED 12:48 PM PT – Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said there was no question identifying terror threats would become more difficult with U.S. troops no longer in Afghanistan. During a press conference in Qatar on Tuesday, Austin said the U.S. would now have to rely more heavily on its technological capabilities to identify and engage threats that develop in the region.
Austin assured Americans and allies the capabilities of the U.S. within the region were robust and continually improved.
“We’ve come a long way in the last 20 years in terms of the development of our capabilities. I would further say there isn’t a scrap of earth that we can’t reach out and touch when we need to,” he asserted. “We’ve demonstrated that time and time again, and our job is to make sure we stay vigilant and continue to develop capabilities.”
The Biden administration has acknowledged ISIS-K as a current and ongoing terror threat. Austin said the Pentagon would maintain focus on the terrorist group, while other top officials suggested the possibility of the U.S. working with the Taliban against ISIS-K.
.@SecDef and I met today with our Qatari counterparts, @kbmalattiya and @MBA_AlThani_, to commend Qatar for its leadership facilitating the safe transit of evacuees from Afghanistan. We discussed our important work on Afghanistan and initiatives to promote regional security. pic.twitter.com/jxfDHIYfFa
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 7, 2021
Austin went on to admit that their were lessons to be learned from an after-action review of the flawed withdrawal operation.