Some U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been notified that they may need to move rapidly in case of an emergency following President Trump’s controversial announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Military Times has learned.
Trump’s announcement Wednesday has sparked sharp criticism and has stoked fears of potential violence. The State Department issued a ’Worldwide Caution” following the announcement, without mentioning Jerusalem or Trump’s announcement.
“Due to a potential for violence as a result of the announcement, US Forces Afghanistan has implemented a robust security plan to ensure the safety of our personnel and assets in the region,” said Navy Capt. Thomas Gresback, a spokesperson for Resolute Support.
“We’re all in a ‘one hour notice to move’ status right now,” a military official told Military Times on condition of anonymity.
“Notice to Move is the third-rate QRF [Quick Reaction Force] they run here with the Theater Reserve Force. We’re supposedly able to move anywhere in Afghanistan or CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] if necessary, wherever air can take us.”
QRFs are generally organized by the speed with which they can react to a call for support. Depending on the intensity of the conflict and level of urgency, troops and equipment may be staged and ready to go at a moment’s notice, or they may be in the vicinity of a staging area if the threat is low.
These notices are not necessarily uncommon, and CENTCOM has many planned contingencies in the event of emergencies.
Alerts can be given for “any sort of contingency. Typically we drill for downed aircraft,” the military official said. However, Thursday’s notice was reportedly a result of increased threats in the region stemming from Trump’s announcement, the official told Military Times.
It is not surprising that troops would be put on alert in Afghanistan because these forces are always ready to react to threats and events in the region, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Andrews, a Pentagon spokesperson.
At the tactical level, troops must be ready to respond to any kind of event, including large-scale protests that can flare up in Afghanistan.
But, there has been “no overall directive from CENTCOM or theater-wide order,” as a result of Trump’s announcement, Andrews said. And there has been “no change in posture.”
Officials at CENTCOM would neither confirm nor deny that any forces had been put on alert following Trump’s statements.
“At U.S. Central Command, we have not issued any special orders or directives. We have a policy not to discuss force protection measures,” according to a CENTCOM statement Thursday.
“At U.S. Central Command, the safety of American citizens and all of our forces across the region remains a top priority,” an official at CENTCOM said. “We have contingency plans in place in the event that violence breaks out across our area of operations.”
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.