US Military Has Already Begun ‘Over-the-Horizon’ Operations Amid Afghanistan Withdrawal, Austin Says

Middle East

Pentagon officials have long promoted the military’s presence in other parts of the Middle East, such as the Gulf region, for its ability to provide over-the-horizon capabilities, but Gen. Frank McKenzie has warned that this means longer flight times to and from Afghanistan and less time for assets to be over the country.

The US military is already performing so-called over-the-horizon operations, undertaken from outside the nation, as it is currently withdrawing from Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday.

Speaking at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Austin refused to confirm a claim in Wednesday’s The New York Times report that the Pentagon is considering providing military air support to Afghan forces if Kabul or another major city falls to the Taliban after US soldiers leave.

Instead, the Defense Secretary noted that capabilities such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) have already begun to be transported into Afghanistan from outside the nation during the ongoing pullout.

Austin also stated at the hearing that the military is aiming to reduce the distance between over-the-horizon forces.

The United States currently has no basing agreements with Afghanistan’s neighbors, and various geopolitical factors, such as the countries’ ties to Russia, could prove difficult to make such arrangements.

As all US military personnel leave Afghanistan by…

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