US and allies plan fight from afar against al-Qaeda once troops exit Afghanistan

economictimes.indiatimes.com
6 min read
fairly difficult
Drawing on the hard lessons from President Barack Obamas decision a decade ago to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq — allowing the rise of the Islamic State three years later — the Pentagon is discussing with allies where to reposition forces, possibly to neighbouring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to US officials.
US troops are set to leave Afghanistan no later than September 11, but the Pentagon , US spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist base.Drawing on the hard lessons from President Barack Obama's decision a decade ago to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq — allowing the rise of the Islamic State three years later — the Pentagon is discussing with allies where to reposition forces, possibly to neighbouring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to US officials.Attack planes aboard aircraft carriers and long-range bombers flying from land bases along the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and even in the United States could strike insurgent fighters spotted by armed surveillance drones.But there are risks.Afghan commandos who have been providing the bulk of intelligence on insurgent threats could disintegrate after the United States withdraws, leaving a large hole to fill.Turkey, which has long had a direct relationship with Afghanistan in addition to its role in the NATO mission there, is leaving troops behind who could help the CIA collect intelligence on al-Qaeda cells, officials note.Still, planners at the military's Central Command in Tampa, Florida, and Joint Staff in Washington have been developing options to offset the loss of US combat boots on the ground, and President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the revised approach would keep al-Qaeda at bay."We will not take our eye of the terrorist threat," Biden said in a televised address from the White House. "We will reorganise our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region to prevent reemergence of terrorist threat to our homeland."But some former top commanders, as well as lawmakers from both parties, warned that absent the unrelenting pressure from US Special Operations forces and intelligence operatives in the country, al-Qaeda could make a comeback in…
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