Drones will be used to campaign against ISIS-K after US troops withdraw, expert says


As Afghanistan braces for a future without the presence of US troops, US military officials will most likely fight ISIS-K using drone strikes, drone expert Brett Velicovich said.

One of the first strikes was carried out on Friday in response to a bomb attack that killed 13 U.S. servicemen a day earlier during evacuations at Kabul International Airport. ISIS-K, an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack.

The Pentagon said the retaliatory strike hit a vehicle carrying an ISIS-K target that was supposed to plan future attacks.

The operation signals a new way of waging war against terrorist groups, especially in remote areas where there is no US presence on the ground, Velicovich, a former military intelligence specialist and author of “Drone WarriorFox News said.

A US drone strike on Sunday destroyed a vehicle carrying “several suicide bombers” from the Afghan branch of the Islamic State before they could attack the military evacuation at Kabul International Airport, US officials said. (AP Photo / Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi)

“I think that definitely has to be the way we lead strikes against them unfortunately because we don’t have enough guys on the pitch,” he said. “I think they will have an air campaign in the future.”

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have revolutionized warfare with their ability to engage enemy targets, provide critical surveillance and live video feeds for troops on the ground, while reducing the number of troops. necessary in case of danger.

People on the ground are always needed to confirm or deny a lot of information, Velicovich said.

It’s unclear how potential drone strikes against ISIS-K will work in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

“The question I keep asking myself is ‘Are we going to work with the Taliban to enable them to allow us to carry out drone strikes in Afghanistan’, which I think would be really sad,” he said. he declared. “Will we work with them in a way that reports indicate that we have worked with the Pakistani government to oust al Qaeda? “

He noted that the drone campaign against al-Qaeda in Pakistan had been successful because the group’s senior leaders were concentrated in the region.

The concern would be sharing information with the Taliban, “whom I will never consider as the enemy,” he added.

A US aviator guides an MQ-9 Reaper drone as it taxies to the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in March.

A US aviator guides an MQ-9 Reaper drone as it taxies to the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in March.
(REUTERS / Josh Smith / File)

“Would they potentially give information to the United States to strike one of their political enemies instead of an ISIS-K member?” He asked, while acknowledging that drones are needed to control terrorist groups. “It keeps them on the run and always makes them wonder who is after them and it’s important for the safety of Americans, but it’s going to be very difficult in this environment.”

The strategy of relying on drone strikes has its drawbacks, as they require large amounts of intelligence and collection on the ground and in the air, allowing authorities to confirm that the people targeted are, in fact, the right ones. target. The intelligence specifies who the target is, the threat it poses and its misdeeds.

“Without a coherent strategy that encompasses, at a minimum, special operations units conducting tactical ground missions to support air operations from above, then the threat will continue for years to come,” Velicovich said, adding that drones are not the end. all. “We can’t just push our way through the leaders of groups like ISIS-K and the Taliban and think they’re no longer a threat.”

Since drone technology has become widely available and cheaper in recent years, terrorist groups like ISIS have developed their own armed drone programs with the aim of competing with established armed forces.

ISIS fighters equipped drones bought cheaply online with grenades, mortars and other explosives and dropped them on enemy forces. In 2017, the group posted a video showing drones dropping ammunition at enemies from the air.


When ISIS recaptured Mosul, Iraq, multiple drone attacks were reported against coalition forces.

“They were so used to being hunted down that they found ways to use it against us,” Velicovich said. “It’s the same thing that will continue in Afghanistan. They kind of learned how we do business and now they are using it against us, in a much smaller way.”

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