The Air Force will maintain a small airlift and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance presence in Afghanistan into 2015 and possibly beyond, said Maj. Gen. Jake Polumbo, the top Air Force general in Afghanistan, on Tuesday. “The types of airmen that we’ll have besides the advise-and-assist airmen will be primarily airlift—people that assist in regards to any of the drawdown that might not yet be done and assisting with the aerial ports of demarcation for our retrograde ops,” Polumbo told Pentagon reporters on April 23 from his location in Kabul via a satellite-enabled video connection. “Some manned ISR” also will remain in theater, he said. He noted that this footprint “would be small.” He said the United States would also be able to maintain its ISR capability “with very few people forward” following the 2014 withdrawal because most remotely piloted aircraft flying over Afghanistan are operated from stateside locations like Creech AFB, Nev., or Holloman AFB, N.M. Defense Department and State Department officials have been saying the United States would continue to provide support in Afghanistan following the 2014 withdrawal of US combat troops, but haven’t provided the details of what the footprint would look like. (Polumbo transcript)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.