The United States has stated that after completing its withdrawal from Afghanistan, it will provide Afghan troops with air support “over the horizon.” However, it is unclear how you can do this due to the large number of potential restrictions that may soon emerge.
In mid-July, the United States launched several air strikes to support Afghan government forces in the fight against the Taliban. These airstrikes reportedly demonstrated the United States’ intention to provide air support, at least until it completes its withdrawal from the country by August 31.
After that date, it is unclear how Washington will choose to continue to provide this kind of air support.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin stated at a press conference on Wednesday that after August 31st, US air strikes will only target Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in the country, not the Taliban. It is not yet clear whether this policy will change if the Taliban is about to occupy the capital Kabul and the US has about 650 soldiers to provide security for its embassy.
At the same press conference, General Mark Milli, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that a “total takeover of power by the Taliban” is a possible scenario, and that the organization has already occupied about half of Afghanistan. Although he also said that he did not believe that “the ending has not yet been written.
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US Air Force F15E Strike Eagles dropped a 2,000 pound bomb in a cave in eastern Afghanistan … [+] US Air Force photo
The United States does not use any authorized military bases in six countries in Afghanistan. This means that your plane must take off from a base or aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
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“Range will effectively eliminate any ability of the United States to provide close air support to ground Afghan forces, Stratfor Roger Baker, senior vice president of strategic analysis at RANE, told me. “However, assuming that the United States obtains overflight permits from Pakistan, such air assets can still be used to target static locations (training grounds, weapons depots) or for pre-planned offensive operations.
Because neighboring Pakistan does not allow the United States to be in its territory Deployed aircraft to carry out operations over Afghanistan, and Washington has held talks with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Baker said that Russia allegedly supports the US military’s operations from Central Asia, provided that its mission has obvious restrictions.
Islamabad’s refusal by the United States to use its territory as a base of operations could weaken Washington’s ability to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan could have been a better base of operations for U.S. drones flying south of the mountains of Afghanistan, but potential operations from Central Asia could provide similar intelligence and surveillance support,” Baker said.
The final location of the US base of operations in the region and the overflight permits of the countries in the region will have a major impact on the US air strike decision following the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan.
“Without a base of operations in Pakistan, the threshold for active US military intervention may be higher, even through the use of armed drones,” Baker said. “Any operation in support of the Afghan army may require specific requests from the Afghan government and may need to coincide with the overflights or operational agreements of neighboring countries.
“However, if the United States detects a threat to the United States through -state actors, the United States already shows its commitment to unilateral action,” he added.
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TOPSHOT An Afghan Air Force Mi17 helicopter is in. .. [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
The Afghan Air Force has a small-scale air force, which over the years the United States helped establish it. However, maintenance issues and other deficiencies could severely inhibit the air force’s ability to help defend against Taliban attacks and support Afghan soldiers on the battlefield.
The Afghan Air Force lacks fighter jets (instead it uses Cessna AC208 Caravans and Brazilian-made A29 Super Tucanos light attack aircraft) and relies heavily on helicopters. According to the New York Times, 4,444 American contractors provided an astonishing 100% maintenance for the Afghan UH60 Black Hawk helicopter and C130 Hercules transport aircraft fleet.
Afghanistan has long preferred Russian-made Mi17 “Hip” general purpose helicopters. Given that such Russian hardware has been used for decades, they have found that they are easier to fly and maintain.
The United States purchased Mi17 for the Afghan Air Force. All of this changed when Congress banned the use of federal funds to purchase military equipment from Russia nearly ten years ago. The United States did not look for second-hand Mi17 from the former Soviet Union countries, some of which are even NATO members, but began to supply UH60 to Afghanistan, hoping that they could replace the Mi17 in Afghanistan.
However, according to a U.S. official quoted by The New York Times, the Afghan Air Force may not even be able to operate its “Black Hawk” without the help of contractors until the mid-2030s. Given that most contractors have already left the country, Afghanistan will undoubtedly find it difficult to maintain its Black Hawk fighter jets in the coming months. Remote technical support provided through Zoom may not be a suitable substitute for ground contractors.
“Although the Afghan Air Force has been developed and trained in the past few years, the number of well-trained pilots is still limited and there is a severe lack of experienced maintenance personnel,” Baker said.
“The switch to the American Black Hawk from Russian hips is a special challenge for Afghan maintenance personnel.”
He added that it was suggested that India could seize this emerging opportunity by providing parts and repairs to the elderly in Afghanistan Service, gain a foothold in Afghanistan.

By Peter

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