The intelligence community is working on contingency plans for where to base its drone force if the U.S. military pulls out entirely from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
Efforts to reach a security arrangement with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan that would provide ground rules for a continued U.S. presence in the country have so far been fruitless, according to The New York Times. Karzai is said to believe that the U.S. needs its bases in his country more than he needs American support, analysts told the Times.
The bases would need to be within range of al-Qaida targets
located mostly in mountainous northwest Pakistan. There were 28 U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan
from Afghanistan in 2013, according to the Long War Journal.
Without at least some U.S. troops remaining it would be difficult to defend the drone bases around the country. "We will be forced to adapt," an unnamed official told the Times, "and while perhaps less than most efficient, the United States will find ways necessary to protect our interests."
American security analysts are working to come up with alternatives to the Afghanistan bases, in the event that an agreement cannot be worked out with Karzai.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama is expected to declare that the Afghan war will be over for Americans at the end of 2014 after some 13 years.
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