President Biden’s nominee to head US Central Command (CENTCOM), Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, told a Senate panel Tuesday that the military needs more resources to conduct operations in Afghanistan.
Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, US military leaders have vowed to continue surveillance and conduct potential airstrikes against groups like ISIS-K by maintaining so-called “over the horizon” capabilities.
The last known US airstrike in Afghanistan was the August 29th Kabul drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including seven children. About a month after the US pullout, the Taliban complained that US drones were still flying surveillance missions over Afghanistan, and Kurilla’s comments suggest the flights have continued.
Kurilla said the “over the horizon” monitoring in Afghanistan is “very difficult,” but not impossible. “The biggest challenge for Afghanistan is that as a landlocked country, so we rely on other nations to be able to enter Afghanistan,” he said. “The distances required to fly [surveillance] is great. We spend approximately two-thirds of the time just flying there and getting back.”
Kurilla said the US has been in talks with regional countries to set up a military base to cut down the flight time of the drones, but no agreements have been made. He said the US needs to “reinvest in our intelligence capabilities and human intelligence capability that was lost during the withdrawal.”