Afghan pullout leaves U.S. looking for other places to station its troops

Afghan pullout leaves U.S. looking for other places to station its troops

U.S. military planners are looking for options to base forces and equipment in Central Asia and the Middle East after American and allied troops leave Afghanistan in the coming months, Wall Street Journal reported.

With withdrawal preparations ramping up, U.S. military commanders want bases for troops, drones, bombers and artillery to shore up the Afghan government, keep the Taliban insurgency in check and monitor other extremists. Options being assessed range from nearby countries to more distant Arab Gulf emirates and Navy ships at sea, U.S. government and military officials said.

Preferable, according to some military and Biden administration officials, would be Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which border Afghanistan and would allow for quick access. But Russia’s large military footprint in the region,  China’s growing one and tensions between them and Washington complicate plans for Central Asian bases, the officials said.

“The drive to work looks like it will be a little bit longer for now,” one official said.

No formal requests for bases in Central Asia have been made to date, according to U.S. officials, with the Pentagon still weighing the pros and cons. The State Department and White House are also involved in the decision.

The U.S. had maintained a base in Uzbekistan until it pulled out in 2005. The Karshi-Khanabad base shown in 2002.

The U.S. maintained two bases in Central Asia, one each in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, which were used for Afghanistan operations. But it decamped from Uzbekistan in 2005 and from Kyrgyzstan nearly a decade later.