After Afghanistan pull-out, U.S. seeks NATO basing, intel pacts

Top U.S. military officer to meet NATO counterpart in Greece

Against the backdrop of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the top U.S. military officer is meeting in Greece with NATO counterparts this weekend, hoping to forge more basing, intelligence sharing and other agreements to prevent terrorist groups from regrouping and threatening America and the region.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the meeting of NATO defence chiefs will focus in part on the way ahead. Gen. Milley, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and American intelligence officials have warned that al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group could regenerate in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the United States in one year to two years.

The U.S. military has said it can conduct counterterrorism surveillance and, if necessary, strikes in Afghanistan from “over the horizon” — meaning from assets based in other countries.

But they have made it clear that surveillance flights from bases in the Gulf are long and provide limited time in the air over Afghanistan. So they have talked about seeking basing agreements, overflight rights and increased intelligence-sharing with nations closer to Afghanistan, including some neighbours.

Gen. Milley said he will be talking to his military counterparts “to see what the possibilities are and then bring them back” to U.S. defence and diplomatic leaders for additional discussions. Then, he said, officials will see what they can turn into a reality.

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