The New York Times quoted senior US officials as saying that the Pentagon was considering requesting a permit for airstrikes to support Afghan security forces if the Taliban threatened to seize Kabul or other key cities in the country.
According to the report, US military officials are debating what their response will be if the immediate withdrawal has significant national security implications. Officials say no decision has been made yet.
One option, however, is to recommend the use of US bombers or unmanned drones in the event of a severe crisis, such as the possibility of the Taliban taking control of Kabul, or blocking embassies and endangering the lives of US citizens and allies.
Any further air strikes require the personal approval of the US President. Sources said, however, that it would be difficult to maintain such air support over time due to the extensive logistical movements required given the US military withdrawal.
So by next month, the United States will have all its air bases in Afghanistan closed, and any air strikes must be from locations in the Persian Gulf.
According to the newspaper, the fall of Kabul is in fact a situation that will lead to military action after the withdrawal of American troops. Intervention in the conflict to protect Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city, has reportedly been significantly less reliable.
The New York Times reported that such discussions in senior US military circles could signal US concerns about the military and political survival of the Afghan government, and that Biden’s predecessors were trying to moderate the withdrawal of all troops from the country.