How the U.S. Plans to Combat From Afar After Troops Exit Afghanistan

“I simply don’t see how the I.C. operates in a spot like Afghanistan with out the U.S. army facet by facet,” Mr. Polymeropoulos mentioned in an e mail, referring to the intelligence group, together with the C.I.A. “It’s simply far too harmful.”

Daunting challenges face the American-backed Afghan safety forces. Over the previous 12 months, they’ve misplaced territory from repeated assaults by the Taliban and have relied on U.S. air energy to push again the insurgents.

With the Afghan authorities’s credibility waning, militias — as soon as the principle energy holders throughout the days of the Afghan civil battle within the 1990s — have rearmed and reappeared, even difficult Afghan safety forces in some areas.

“If the president authorizes it, we are going to nonetheless be capable to present some stage of army assist to the Afghan nationwide safety forces after we depart the nation,” William H. McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, mentioned in an interview on Wednesday.

For the Pentagon and the intelligence businesses, a key subject now’s how readily counterterrorism operations could be carried out from past Afghanistan. The historical past of such operations has a decidedly blended document. Cruise missile strikes launched from distant ships in opposition to terrorist targets in Afghanistan have had a low fee of success.

The US maintains a string of air bases within the Persian Gulf area, in addition to in Jordan, and the Pentagon operates a serious regional air headquarters in Qatar. However the farther that Particular Operations forces should journey to strike a goal, the extra doubtless the operations are to fail, both by lacking their mark or leading to a catastrophic failure that might kill American service members or civilians on the bottom, in line with officers who’ve studied the document.

Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, assembly with allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Group in Brussels on Wednesday, cited the army’s potential to strike terrorist targets in far-flung sizzling spots “in Africa and different locations” the place few, if any, troops are stationed, apparently referring to drone strikes and commando raids in Somalia, Yemen and Libya lately.

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