SOF chief calls over the horizon operations in Afghanistan “difficult” but doable

JUST IN: SOF chief calls operations on the horizon in Afghanistan “difficult” but doable

Army General Richard Clarke

Photo credit: Stew Magnuson

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The Special Operations Command chief said trying to remotely crush potential threats against the United States in Afghanistan from great distances will be more difficult without ground forces, but still possible.

SOCOM Commander Army Gen. Richard Clarke said on November 19 that unmanned aerial vehicles will still be there when they try to keep an eye out for potential terrorist threats following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from ‘Afghanistan last summer. The military can also build on the contacts it has established in the region and neighboring allied countries, as it has done in the past, he told a conference at Halifax International Security. Forum in Halifax, Canada.

Without troops on the ground in Afghanistan and few allied bases nearby, the United States will be forced to take a so-called “beyond the horizon” approach to deal with potential threats, the US leaders said.

“Although hard, we have done hard and we will continue to persist,” said Clarke.

To prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a haven for terrorists, the United States must understand the country’s intelligence image. If another threat to the United States or any of its partners emerges, “we can go where the enemy is. We’ve proven it time and time again, ”Clarke said.

Jawed Lundin, Afghanistan’s former deputy foreign minister, at a panel discussion later in the forum, criticized the over the horizon approach.

“This whole idea of ​​surgical strikes beyond the horizon, military response to potential threats, we just saw it for 20 years – for goodness sake it doesn’t work,” he said. . The United States needs to be “smarter” and work with locals who can oppose and start resistance to the Taliban, he suggested.

Clarke said that globally, “the violent extremism that attacked us on September 11 is still there. We can never forget that, ”he said.

“While al-Qaida has been largely decimated in Afghanistan and ISIS’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria defeated, threats still exist. In fact, in some ways it has metastasized. It’s actually more difficult to follow, ”he said.

Clarke was asked if he saw the Taliban as potential allies in the fight against ISIS’s Afghan affiliate. “I don’t see it,” he replied. “I don’t think they should be seen today… as a counterterrorism partner.”

Clarke was asked about his assessment of why the Afghan special operations forces that SOCOM had trained over the years offered little resistance after the Taliban began sweeping the country as the United States withdrew. .

The military must have a strong link with their government, he replied. “Once the Afghan government that supported all these forces collapsed, there was no more logistics, no more pay and no more weapons or ammunition that reached them,” he said. “Without this hope, without this backbone, they did not resist the Taliban when it was obvious that it was a losing proposition.”

When asked where these forces went, Clarke said some evacuated with US forces, but some remained.

The subjects: Special Operations, Department of Defense

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