During the classified hearing with Senators on Wednesday, the top Pentagon officials said that the US is in talks with countries that border Afghanistan about housing "over the horizon" counterterrorism operations that would allow the US military to more easily surveil and strike targets in the Taliban-controlled country. Those sites could include bases run by Russia in those countries, Politico reported on Wednesday (local time).
Briefing the lawmakers behind closed doors, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley revealed about the discussions, which are taking place with the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and others, according to Politico.
Kenneth McKenzie, US Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander, detailed the types of military aircraft and launching points that could be used to launch strikes against targets in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The top generals testified for the first time before the Senate after the US withdrawal.
On August 31, the US completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan under the Doha accord it signed with the Taliban last year.
Earlier, during the public testimony, Milley stressed that he had warned US President Joe Biden that a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase risks to Pakistan's nuclear weapons and the country's security.
Milley said, "We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan, and its nuclear arsenals."
"We need to fully examine the role of Pakistan sanctuary," the general said while emphasising the need to probe how the Taliban withstood US military pressure for 20 years.