In an exclusive television interview with Fox News' Jennifer Griffin in Ramstein, Germany Saturday, General Gen. Mark Milley was asked about the military operation to process 17,000 Afghan evacuees headed for the U.S.
"What they're doing as people come in, they're getting their names registered. They're doing the biometrics. They check their irises. They do their fingerprints. They take a full facial photo," he explained, referencing not only the Department of Homeland Security but officials in the FBI, USAID, the State Department, and Customs and Border Protection.
The general – who traveled to Germany to thank troops from the U.S. European Command that scrambled to set up the massive tent city on the tarmac of the largest U.S. Airbase and transport hub in Europe – said the base had already processed about 30,000 individuals.
Milley said he is "very comfortable" with the measures being taken to approve the entry of individuals into the U.S.
The general was asked whether the U.S. is safer following the complete withdrawal from Afghanistan but said it was too soon to tell.
"My military estimate is…that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war," Milley said. "I don't know if the Taliban is going to [be] able to consolidate power and establish governance."
The general’s premonition was followed by his concern that the terrorist organizations could use the disorder in Afghanistan as an opportunity to find gains.
"I think there's at least a very good probability of a broader civil war and that will then, in turn, lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups," he told Fox News.
"You could see a resurgence of terrorism coming out of that general region within 12, 24, 36 months. And we're going to monitor that," he added.
The general emphasized that maintaining U.S. security and intelligence gathering in the region will be a more difficult task now that the U.S. has no official presence inside Afghanistan.
"We'll have to reestablish some human intelligence networks, etc.," he said. "And then as opportunities present themselves, we'll have to continue to conduct strike operations if there's a threat to the United States."
President Biden has said the U.S. will continue to counter terrorism through "over horizon" capabilities by relying on military airstrikes instead of using ground-based operations.
Milley told Fox News "it is possible to do it." But added, "We're going to have to maintain very, very intense levels of indicators and warnings and observation and ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance] over that entire region.