US Seeks NATO Cooperation for Surveillance
And Potential Airstrikes in Afghanistan
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
(September 20, 2021) — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met with his NATO counterparts in Greece over the weekend to discuss cooperation on surveillance and potential airstrikes in Afghanistan, what the Pentagon calls “over the horizon capabilities.”
“We are going to talk about over the horizon capabilities and where allies think appropriate that they can make a contribution, we’re certainly open to that,” Milley told reporters ahead of the meeting. “There are opportunities where alliance members may choose to work closely with us on these over the horizon capabilities.”
After President Biden ordered the Afghanistan withdrawal at the end of April, Pentagon leaders were scrambling to try and maintain the ability to bomb Afghanistan by seeking basing agreements with neighboring Central Asian countries, such as Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. But the US failed to negotiate any agreements and now has to settle for flying surveillance and launching potential airstrikes in Afghanistan out of bases in the Gulf region or from aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea.
Milley and other NATO military leaders say their goal in maintaining these “over the horizon capabilities” is to prevent terrorist groups from gaining a foothold. But the only group that appears to be active is ISIS-K, a sworn enemy of the Taliban. The Taliban has a clear interest in preventing further Western intervention in the country and has said they don’t need help from other countries to fight terrorist groups.
In June, the US started launching airstrikes in Afghanistan from outside the country. The last known US airstrike in Afghanistan was conducted on August 29th. The Pentagon initially claimed it killed an ISIS-K member, but due to media scrutiny, it had to admit it killed no ISIS fighters. Instead, 10 civilians, including seven children, were killed by the US drone strike.
The August 29th strike was just the latest civilian massacre in Afghanistan by the US. Earlier in August, US airstrikes that targeted Lashkar Gah destroyed a school and a health clinic, killing at least 20 civilians. If the US continues to bomb Afghanistan after the pullout, it’s almost a certainty that more civilians will be killed.
Report: US Navy Might Continue Air War in Afghanistan
Airstrikes could be launched from aircraft carriers in the North Arabian Sea
(September 5, 2021) — After the US completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan last week, President Biden threatened more airstrikes against the country’s ISIS affiliate, known as ISIS-K. According to a report from Politico, the Navy expects any future US airstrikes in Afghanistan to be launched from aircraft carriers in the North Arabian Sea.
The US has the power to bomb Afghanistan with planes based outside of the country, what the Pentagon calls “over the horizon capability.” Having aircraft carriers in the North Arabian Sea means shorter flights for US warplanes and drones than if they flew out of bases in Gulf nations.
“I think a lot of that mission is going to fall on the Navy,” a Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Politico. With China now the Pentagon’s top priority, hawks in Washington want Navy resources to be focused on East Asia. The Navy official said the demand is a reason why the military branch should get more money.
“This is a great example of why we need more money to operate forward — things like this are what we’re built to do, but we need the funding and support to keep doing it, and that hasn’t always been there,” the official said.
The Japan-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was deployed to the North Arabian Sea during the Kabul evacuation and is still in the region, along with the aircraft carrier USS Iwo Jima.
The last known US airstrike in Afghanistan was in Kabul on August 29th, which was carried out by a drone from outside the country, or “over the horizon.” The US claims the strike targeted ISIS-K, but witnesses on the ground said it killed 10 civilians, and the Pentagon has not disputed the account.
If the Navy continues the air war in Afghanistan, there will be many more civilian casualties. ISIS-K is also not a real threat to the US. The group is small and is a sworn enemy of the Taliban. For their part, the Taliban has said they don’t need help from the US or any other country to fight ISIS-K.
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