Counterterrorism in Afghanistan After US Reduces Footprint

By: LTC Arto Hirvela, FIN Army, US Central Command: Strategy Plans and Policy Directorate; Combined Strategic Analysis Group
02 June 2021


After the US reduces presence in the AOR, especially in Afghanistan, as directed by the President Biden, the US will lose Access Basing and Overflight (ABO) and agile counterterrorism capability in the region. This is basically a challenge for US SOCOM, but Afghans will still need some sort of military support against terrorists, that can be provided at short notice. A good option would be to have allied presence on the ground, but it is challenging to find a willing stability provider who would be accepted by the Afghan government and Taliban. From the US part, since the “over the horizon” option is both costly and time consuming, efficient counterterrorism would require a base somewhere in the near area. Looking around Afghanistan there are not many suitable places when considering a need to reduce the overall presence in the region.

Key Points:

  • The Afghans will need military support against terrorists.
  • The presence of allied nations in Afghanistan could sustain an effective counterterrorism capability.
  • An “Over the Horizon” option is both costly and time consuming.
  • The US should make agreements to have a base near Afghanistan or preferably promote joint counterterrorism center from which to operate.
  • Uzbekistan is a central location to combat VEOs in Afghanistan.
  • India is another option for a counterterrorism location.

Read the complete paper here.

The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.