To hold tabs on the navy state of affairs on the bottom, the U.S. navy needs to proceed utilizing some model of what it calls the Combined Situational Awareness Room, the place it coordinates with its Afghan counterparts (typically over WhatsApp), funneling info and serving to put air help and different forces into place on the battlefield. But it stays unclear the place the command heart can be, with choices together with the American Embassy or exterior the nation.
Though the Afghan Air Force has turn out to be more and more succesful in recent times, American drones and different surveillance plane nonetheless present key concentrating on info. And U.S. strikes, although decreased underneath extraordinarily restrictive guidelines of engagement, nonetheless happen as worldwide forces depart and Afghan safety forces wrestle to carry floor.
U.S. navy officers imagine the United States will dedicate a big variety of reconnaissance plane to proceed to assist the Afghan forces however will restrict airstrikes to “counterterrorism operations” solely, a free description that has been used previously to justify quite a lot of actions.
With no bases to place plane near Afghanistan, meaning American plane should fly from bases within the Middle East or from plane carriers within the Arabian Sea to help Afghan forces or to conduct counterterrorism missions from “over the horizon.”
For prop-powered surveillance drones and planes, meaning several-hour journeys simply to get to Afghanistan.
For jets based mostly on plane carriers, meaning frequent midair refueling stops. As land-based U.S. jets depart Afghanistan, United States forces are struggling to fulfill the demand for carrier-based plane due to an elevated want for refueling tankers. For now, the jets onboard the united statesS. Eisenhower within the Arabian Sea can fulfill solely round 75 p.c of the requests over Afghanistan, a navy official mentioned.
Questioned by lawmakers final month concerning the challenges of countering terrorist threats in Afghanistan after American troops depart, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the pinnacle of the Pentagon’s Central Command, mentioned, “It’s going to be extremely difficult to do, but it is not impossible.”