Contingency plans: US seeks C Asia bases for Pakistan drone operations

Considering relocating unmanned fleet to countries like Tajikistan.

News Desk February 17, 2014
File photo of an American drone. PHOTO: REUTERS

The United States is drawing up contingency plans to use airbases in Central Asia to conduct drone attacks inside Pakistan in case the White House is forced to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday.

Quoting unnamed US officials, the report said CIA’s fleet of armed Predator and Reaper drones could be moved to airfields ‘to the north’ if Washington is forced to evacuate bases in Afghanistan.

“There are contingency plans for alternatives in the north,” it quoted one official as saying.

None of the officials named a particular country which was being considered as an alternative for drone operations, the report said.

The officials also refused to say whether the US was seeking permission to base drones in Tajikistan. Last month, Maj-Gen Michael K Nagata, commander of US special operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, visited Tajikistan for talks on ‘issues of bilateral security cooperation’ and ‘continued military cooperation,’ according to a US Embassy statement in Dushanbe.

In any case, a move to acquire bases for drones in Central Asia may be blocked by Russia, the report quoted several other officials as saying.

And even if alternative bases are secured, CIA’s capability to gather sufficient intelligence to find al Qaeda operatives and quickly launch drone missiles at specific targets in Pakistan’s tribal region will be greatly diminished if the spy agency loses its drone bases in Afghanistan, it added.

“People think of drones as if they fly to a place, shoot and go home… but there is a large amount of coordination and intelligence gathering that takes place, and it takes a lot of time and patience,” it quoted a former US official familiar with counter-terrorism operations as saying.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2014.


sharabi | 8 years ago | Reply @unbelievable India will never allow that, Remember last year a US Air force place was forced to land by IAF just for Air space violation and crew was released after 46 hours of instance questioning & investigation.
unbelievable | 8 years ago | Reply

Drone base inside India might be a great idea - provide more intel on LOC military/militant movement - take out some bad guys on the Eastern Border - and probably upset Pakistan to no end. Nice gift from India to Pakistan.

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