U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it’s “possible” that the United States will seek to coordinate with the Taliban on counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan against Islamic State militants or other terrorist groups operating within the country. The optics of that statement, so soon after the evacuation of the U.S. from Kabul, reflect poorly on the administration.

The general’s comments were given at a news conference at the Pentagon, which was also attended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

While the general didn’t give any details he didn’t appear to suggest that cooperation with the Taliban will happen anytime soon.

The Taliban and the U.S. military coordinated daily outside of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport over the past few weeks to facilitate the evacuation of more than 124,000 people. But that was a matter of convenience for both parties and not necessarily a sign of things to come in terms.

For the immediate future, any interaction between the Taliban and the United States will be strictly conducted by diplomats and in Doha, Qatar. Nevertheless, Milley’s comment coupled with President Joe Biden’s statement that the Taliban are avowed enemies of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), raised some eyebrows, and suggested a shared interest with the United States.

President Biden vowed further retaliation against ISIS-K. (File photo)

Secretary Austin, perhaps sensing the questions that were bound to be asked, attempted to downplay any suggestion of cooperation with the Taliban.

“I would not make any leaps of logic to broader issues,” said Austin.

Milley further commented on the Taliban, calling them “ruthless” and adding that “Whether or not they change remains to be seen.” He then backtracked his earlier comment stating that the recent cooperation with the Taliban at Kabul airport was not necessarily a model for the future.