The US will not “walk away” from the Middle East, a top general said Thursday, emphasizing the region’s critical role in the country’s national security priorities.
During an interview with Jordan’s Al-Mamlaka TV, Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the region is “very important and very significant to the United States for a lot of reasons.”
“We have very close friendships and partnerships. And we want to make sure that the region is stable. Obviously, the region is a primary source of oil and energy resources for other parts of the world,” he said.
Milley noted that the longstanding relationship with the Middle East will continue.
“I can’t imagine that the United States would ever walk away from the Middle East. I think we’ll remain committed for many, many years and decades to come,” he said.
Asked whether the US is considering increasing the number of troops in the region, Milley said it rises and falls depending on “the threat at the moment in time.”
Turning to Daesh/ISIS, he recalled that the terrorist group was destroyed but the movement is not dead yet.
“The ideology is not yet dead, and there are some ISIS terrorists that are still roaming the deserts of Syria and somewhat into Iraq, so that presents a threat.”
He maintained that US troops will remain in both countries to work for the group’s enduring defeat.
“There are still fighters in small groups in and around Syria and around Iraq…and if we were to somehow suddenly withdraw, those forces could reconstruct themselves. So the situation is much, much better than it was. But it still requires a level of commitment. So we’ve got some modest amount of forces in Syria and we’ve got forces in Iraq,” he added.
Asked if the US will leave Syria when the terrorist group is wiped out, Milley said the decision will fall on President Joe Biden and the US government.
Turning to the war in Ukraine waged by Russia, Milley said it was illegal and unprovoked.
Ukrainian forces are carrying out a counter-offensive against Russian troops in an effort to take back territories, but it has been “bloody” and “slow.”
“It’s frankly too early to say whether it’s succeeded or failed. It clearly is a partial success to date. Now the speed at which the offensive is being undertaken is slower than the planners had thought,” he said.
He also said that efforts to help train Ukrainian F-16 pilots are moving forward, adding a training program is in place and the Ukrainians will receive the fighter jets soon.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said Thursday that the training of Ukrainian pilots will start in October in the US state of Arizona.
Source : AA