America’s War in Afghanistan Turns

While the US Navy has long reacted harshly to a request to deploy one or two aircraft carriers to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf simultaneously to support land wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the lack of airfields US-controlled aircraft near Afghanistan means more planes will take off from the sea.

One defense official, who asked not to be named, said it was likely the US Navy would take over that task because the Pentagon’s plans for Afghanistan are not yet complete.

America's war in Afghanistan changed roles - Photo 1.

US helicopters supply aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Arabian Sea on September 3 Photo: US Navy

Concerned about the rise of ISIS-K, an offshoot of the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan, the administration of President Joe Biden has pledged to maintain air strikes by unmanned and manned aircraft, although there are no detailed plans on how to do so.

For years, US Air Force pilots have flown from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar or Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strike targets in Afghanistan. But to do so, they must first circumnavigate the Gulf around Iran and return to Pakistan, refueling at least once and often flying for hours before closing in on their targets.

Follow PoliticoAn aircraft carrier anchored in the Arabian Sea would shorten the flight time and allow pilots to fly over Pakistan before entering Afghan airspace. Whatever form the air war takes over Afghanistan continues, it is likely that Washington will have to increase funding for both its air force and navy.

The land war in Afghanistan is over after 20 years, but the US will still pour money into the region. Congress is expected to fund UN humanitarian operations in Afghanistan but not directly support the new Taliban-led government, according to US officials.

Since 2001, the United States has spent about $130 billion on security, management, development, and humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to attend a summit on Afghanistan aid on September 13.

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