McKenzie said that the U.S. is ahead of schedule in meeting the demands to reduce U.S. troops in the country in July, the initial phase of the U.S.-Taliban deal that was signed in February.
But the General stressed that going to zero troops by next May is dependent upon Taliban conditions.
“Those conditions would be: Can we be assured that attacks against us will not be generated there?” McKenzie said speaking in video conference for the Middle East Institute in Washington Wednesday.
“And as of right now … frankly, if asked my opinion, those conditions have not been fully met.”
President Trump has expressed his desire to have U.S. military troops home before next May and members of his administration are pushing to have the troops home before the November election, according to the New York Times.
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., along with Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Angus King, D-Maine and Jack Reed, D-R.I., sent a letter Tuesday, to the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, to ask for any updates regarding withdrawing troops by November.
“A rushed and premature withdrawal would also risk losing the gains we have achieved in Afghanistan, not only in counterterrorism but also in building Afghan governance and military forces,” wrote the senators. “Our nation’s intelligence professionals have spent nearly two decades establishing security arrangements with our Afghan partners.”
One of the stipulations for the U.S. to withdrawal from Afghanistan is that the Taliban renounce Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist groups.
The Taliban provided sanctuary for Al-Qaeda when they built their plans for the 9/11 attacks, and the reason the US invaded Afghanistan following the attacks.
“The threat to the United States is not the Taliban. It has never been the Taliban,” McKenzie said. “It’s the entities that they allow to live in Afghanistan that threaten us.”
McKenzie added that he believes the Taliban do not have strong ties or any allegiance to ISIS, noting that the Taliban actively work against them.
“It is less clear to me that they will take the same action against al-Qaida,” McKenzie added.
The Associate Press contributed to this report.