The Pentagon Office of Inspector General (OIG) plans a number of reviews related to the former Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the current Operation Enduring Sentinel in Afghanistan and to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, in general.

U.S. military forces withdrew from Afghanistan last August, and military leaders said that they want to be able to conduct “over the horizon’ strikes from bases in the Middle East against ISIS-K targets in Afghanistan, if needed. The latest quarterly OIG report said that U.S. forces did not conduct any airstrikes in Afghanistan between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 last year.

Last year, U.S. manned aircraft and drones dropped 801 weapons in Afghanistan–142 in January, 126 in February, 116 in March, 119 in April, 72 in May, 55 in June, 18 in July, 153 in August, and zero in the remaining four months.

The 801 weapons were less than half the number U.S. forces dropped in Afghanistan in 2020 and sharply down from the more than 7,000 dropped each year in the country in 2018 and 2019.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the Biden administration’s nominee to head CENTCOM, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that he wants to use artificial intelligene (AI) to improve targeting in the CENTCOM area of responsibility and that AI will help enable “over the horizon” counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan and deterrence of Iran (Defense Daily, Feb. 9).

The newly released OIG report said that the OIG will evaluate whether U.S. Central Command is able to defend “critical assets within its area of responsibility against missiles and unmanned aircraft”–a significant number of which belong to the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

Kurilla told senators last week that he plans to explore partnerships with Israel and other countries in the region to build an integrated air and missile defense system to protect the United Arab Emirates and other nations from missile and drone attacks carried out by the Houthi militias.

In addition to the evaluation of CENTCOM’s ability to defend against drone and missile attacks, the OIG is to determine how much the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency supports U.S. Africa Command, Southern Command, and CENTCOM operations, including Operation Enduring Sentinel.

The OIG is also to conduct an audit of the DoD oversight of contract closeouts in Afghanistan “to determine whether the DoD effectively and efficiently closed out contracts supporting the DoD mission in Afghanistan.”