USAF Prepares Afghanistan Strike Capabilities Post Withdrawal
The US Air Force (USAF) is preparing for “over-the-horizon” strike capabilities in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops from the country, Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth revealed to members of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee Tuesday.
The air force is seeking $10 billion from Congress for its presence across the Middle East.
“We have a series of air bases, they will stay for the time being, that’s where your over-the-horizon capability will come from,” Roth said.
The USAF has Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, and Ali Al-Salem and Ahmad Al-Jaber air bases in Kuwait.
Plan Being Worked Out
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said: “The secretary and the chairman and the US Central Command (CENTCOM) commander, among others” are working out the “idealized capability” of the plan, Breaking Defense reported. She added, “We have to take into account regional aspects and allied approaches.”
She clarified that the “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism capability would not “replicate” the US presence in Afghanistan: “It is rather to take the approach we do in most parts of the world with regard to counterterrorism, which is to ensure that we have sufficient strategic warning and ability to prevent threats from coming and reaching Americans who are at home.”
Hicks further revealed that the Pentagon is working on a separate capability that sees US forces providing assistance to the Afghan national security forces.
Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin said in April that the US will continue to fund the Afghan national security forces.
Additional B-52s Arrive in Qatar
Meanwhile, two more B-52s arrived at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on May 4 to ensure the safe drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, US CENTCOM stated. The total number of long-range bombers deployed to the region has risen to six.
The Pentagon has also extended deployment of the USS Eisenhower in the region and will send additional troops.