Miller warns of increase in Taliban pressure on provincial capitals

US Forces Commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller has said they are closely watching what the Taliban will do following the three-day Eid ceasefire that ended at midnight on Saturday but said he expects violence to increase.

In an interview with BBC, Miller said: “Ideally they would continue with the reduced violence because it is something that the Afghan people want.

“But the expectation is that they will pick up violence in the nearer term.”

He also said he expects the Taliban will increase pressure on different provincial capitals but stated it is now the time for the Afghan security forces to stand on their own.

However, coalition forces are still helping the Afghan security forces – even during their withdrawal.

“And even as we’re retrograding, we are certainly trying to put them (Afghan forces) in the best possible posture that we are able to.”

He said the Afghan forces have the capability to keep the Taliban at bay, adding that “they have to hold”.

He said there is an “emotional aspect” attached to withdrawing from Afghanistan but that the US military has to stay focused on the withdrawal process, which must be done “in accordance with our orders”.

“Our obligations are wanting to make sure our force is protected and that we are able to withdraw coalition forces as safely and as orderly as possible. And at the same time ensure that we leave our Afghan security partners in a position that they are able to pick this up and carry it on.”

He said this was “an obligation that we feel, not just (to) the security forces, but also to the people of Afghanistan.”

On the overall situation after 20 years in the country, and asked if the US had failed, Miller said in response: “I think as we take a look at this thing, history is going to write this story.

“The objectives that we set out I think they’ll be evaluated and I think we really need to take a really honest look at the things that we did not do as well as we wanted to.

“Certainly there were some victories along the way but I think history will judge this and the future will tell the rest of the story.

The US and NATO withdrawal, of a total of around 10,000 troops along with 20 years worth of military equipment, officially started on May 1 and is expected to finish by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.