A day after a deadly terror attack in Afghanistan outside the airport in Kabul, retired U.S. Adm. James Stavridis said the chances of another attack are "better than even."
The ISIS-K terror group claimed responsibility for the attack that involved two suicide bombers who detonated explosive belts at the airport's gate, killing at least 13 U.S. service members and 95 Afghans, according to the Associated Press.
"These kind of attacks tend to go in waves," Stavridis, who served as NATO supreme allied commander overseeing its Afghanistan mission 2009 to 2013, told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. "Think about three to four years ago, it felt like every month you were seeing a spectacular ISIS attack somewhere around the world. That's the DNA of this group, it's quite horrific to contemplate that."
Another attack could only further complicate the U.S. withdrawal with the government's looming Aug. 31 deadline to get U.S. service members and Afghan allies out of the country.
"There is no good solution here," Stavridis said. "We are one truck bomb, one C-17 shoot down, one shootout at the KIA corral (Kabul international airport) away from this mission going sideways.
"We can still pull this thing off. It's going to require total focus, doing everything we can to push the perimeter out, cooperating with the Taliban to do so, mitigating every conceivable threat, particularly threats against aircraft. Let's get this thing done by the 31st and step away."
The U.S. government now finds itself in the position of having to cooperate with the Taliban, which it has been fighting against for the past 20 years, after the Taliban swiftly took Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
"We have no alternative but to work closely with the Taliban," former CIA director John Brennan said on TODAY Friday. "They control the area outside that airport, and so therefore we have to interact with them. We're not relying on them, but in terms of making sure that they're doing everything possible to prevent individuals who have a terrorist agenda from getting close to that airport.
"Again, this is something that I think we know that the Taliban is not an organization that we would naturally work with. Also, there's concern that ISIS-K, the group that carried out this attack, is composed of a lot of former Taliban members, and so therefore infiltrating the Taliban by the ISIS organization is something that we have to be very wary of."
The suicide attack is the latest tragic twist in a chaotic U.S. withdrawal that has drawn criticism from both political parties.
"It certainly could've gone better, and I think we need to pull that apart and figure it out," Stavridis said. "There's blame all the way around here, from the collapse of the Afghan military, which the U.S. military, and I count myself in that number, trained.
"There were not perfect intelligence, there never is. The Taliban stepped up. In war, the enemy gets a vote. They performed superbly, frankly. ... Job one in this situation is to get out of this situation with all of the Americans and as many Afghans as we possibly can. The next job is going after ISIS-K, and I'm sure we're going to continue to work to get the remaining Afghan allies out. If we have to create an underground railroad to do so, we'll do it."