WASHINGTON - The US Defence Secretary nominee Ashton Carter has said he would consider changing the current plans for withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year if security conditions worsen.

Carter, who has served as deputy US Secretary of Defence from 2011- to 2013, was nominated to replace Chuck Hagel who resigned in November last year.

He said he is aware of reports that Islamic State militants may try to expand into Afghanistan, according to Carter’s comments included in his answers to a Senate Armed Services Committee questionnaire, which was obtained by Associated Press, the American news agency. However, Carter insisted that he will work with coalition partners to ensure that doesn’t happen.

The remarks by Carter comes as Hagel said earlier in December last year that up to 10,800 US troops would remain in Afghanistan for the first few months of 2015 but the drawdown will restart and the number of US troops would be reduced to 5,500 by the end of the same year. Meanwhile, Afghan leaders have expressed concerns about the US troop withdrawal and worry that local forces may not be ready to secure the country on their own.  McCain, a Republican who is chairman of the committee, has repeatedly questioned the wisdom of setting and announcing a hard end date to the US presence in Afghanistan. And military commanders have told Congress that they would have preferred a “more ambiguous” withdrawal schedule that would not tell the enemy exactly when US forces would be gone.

The committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday to consider Carter’s nomination, and while he likely will face some pointed questioning during the session, he is expected to easily get confirmed.