If Afghanistan Falls into Crisis, Pentagon May Look At Airstrikes As An Option: Report

Kabul: The Pentagon is weighing whether to authorize airstrikes in Afghanistan if its capital, Kabul, or other parts of the country fall to the Taliban, senior administration officials told The New York Times.

Military officials are actively discussing how to respond to potential consequences following the withdrawal of US troops, as per the report. US President Joe Biden and his administration had said previously that air support would also end, except for strikes that target terrorist groups that could impact American interests, the report noted.

The officials said that decisions to potentially allow air strikes following troop withdrawal haven’t been made yet, but one option now would be to recommend US warplanes or armed drones intervene in a major crisis, such as the fall of Kabul. One official told the newspaper that intervening to help the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest, would be far less certain.

The US is also not likely to provide additional air support to Afghan forces in rural areas, many of which are under Taliban control. Military help is also not likely at government enclaves across the country, the newspaper reported. Additional airstrikes would require President Biden’s approval, the Times noted.

The president said at the time of the announcement of the withdrawal that the US would continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Concerns over a rise in violence have grown amid clashes between the Afghan military and the Taliban since Biden announced the withdrawal.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the top US commander in Europe said NATO might continue that training mission on European soil. “We want to work with Afghanistan from a NATO perspective and we’re in the process of looking at out-of-country special forces training in certain locations to bring NATO special forces activities out of, out of Afghanistan into a remote location, probably somewhere in Europe,” General Tod Wolters, commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said.

That training would be managed by the NATO Office of the Senior Civilian Representative, or OSCR, Wolters said. Under a program established in 2007, the United States has been training elite Afghan commandos at Camp Morehead, in Wardak Province.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has pulled out of Afghanistan its contingent, which took part in the NATO Resolute Support training and advisory mission. The Ukrainian military returned home from June 1 to June 5, 2021, on board an IL-76MD flight operated by Ukraine’s Air Force, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“The scheduled return took place in accordance with the decision of the NATO side to terminate the mission, which had been adopted on April 14, 2021,” the report says. The Resolute Support NATO training and advisory mission in Afghanistan consisted of 21 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
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The main tasks of the Ukrainian national personnel included fulfilling duties as staff officers at the headquarters of the RS-A mission; conducting engineering reconnaissance of traffic routes, objects and terrain; implementing measures to counter the use of improvised explosive devices and disposing of explosive objects; assuming duty as part of the forces of the consolidated spearhead response unit.

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