Post-withdrawal Strategies Being Drawn Out For Afghanistan

Kabul: With the international troop withdrawal process slowly reaching the 20 percent mark, there are talks of the post-drawdown scenario in Afghanistan. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, said on Wednesday that he will suggest ways to monitor and combat terrorist attacks from Afghanistan and the region after they withdraw completely.

The top US commander for the Middle East will submit these to the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in early June. He also added that negotiations with Afghanistan’s neighbors for overflight rights and troop basing are “moving forward”, but will take time. It is pertinent to remember that Pakistan has denied one such request and will not allow any US army bases on its soil. Meanwhile, the top General said that multiple agreements on security will be signed in order to make way for the United States to keep an eye on the terrorist threat and aid the Afghan military.

However, he warned that it will take time and till then, there are great risks for the Afghan military. Speaking to reporters from The Associated Press and ABC News traveling with him to the Middle East, McKenzie declined to provide details about the recommendations he will make to Austin.
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He said he will also provide cost estimates for keeping surveillance aircraft over Afghanistan regularly.

McKenzie has made it clear that without any bases in neighboring countries, it will require far more aircraft to keep watch over Afghanistan because they will have to fly for four hours to six hours from other US military installations in the Middle East. The flight distance severely limits the amount of time the aircraft can spend in the air over Afghanistan.

Many security experts have warned that a troop pullout will lead to civil war in the war-ravaged country and ultimately takeover by the Taliban. However, US has emphasized that it will maintain its over-the-horizon capability to reduce threats from the region.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has announced that it will withdraw its last remaining troops from Afghanistan by May, concluding a 20-year deployment that was the country’s longest-running one.

However, one good thing from the deployment is the Renewable Energy Program in Bamiyan province, which has enabled the residents of the central province to have access to sustainable electricity.

The project was commissioned in 2012 and was ready for use in 2014, covering the city of Bamiyan, which attracts tourists from within and outside Afghanistan every year. Bamiyan residents make up almost 60 percent of the nation’s solar power users, according to the country’s power distributor, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS). The company earns 20 million Afs ($250,000) a year from solar energy users, with 75 percent of that income from solar energy users in Bamiyan.

The project comes as one of the progressive steps taken over the last 20 years to bring stability to Afghanistan and critics fear that with the complete drawdown of foreign troops, such advancements will be hurt the most if the Taliban comes back to power.

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