President Barack Obama met with his senior defense advisors Feb. 4 to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon release. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command; Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; and Navy Adm. William McRaven, commander of US Special Operations Command, met with the President in the Oval Office, states the release. “This is the President’s opportunity to hear directly from his commanders,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said. “This is an opportunity for the President to weigh inputs from the military, as well as other sources, (and) for the President to make decisions as we move forward.” It remains unclear what role US forces will play in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of combat forces later this year. However, US officials continue to encourage Afghanistan to sign a bilateral security agreement that will allow forces to remain in-country in an advise and assist capacity.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.