The Pentagon Nixes Training Program for Afghan Pilots in US
Last month, a U.S. watchdog announced America’s military had ceased tracking the amount of territory influenced or controlled by the Afghan government and militants according to Task & Purpose.
It was one of the last remaining metrics that tracked the deteriorating security conditions in the war-ravaged nation.
The decision was reached as American and Taliban officials have met numerous times with the goal of ensuring a safe departure for U.S. military forces in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that militants will not utilize Afghanistan to threaten the rest of the world.
While this measurement will no longer be used, another metric recently made public is certain to raise some eyebrows. The Pentagon has nixed a training program for Afghan pilots after almost half of them go AWOL while in the U.S.
Last week, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR, a watchdog agency, disclosed the U.S. military “disbanded” an American-based Afghan pilot initiative after more than 40 percent of the trainees went AWOL.
According to Breitbart, SIGAR didn’t offer updated information on whether U.S. authorities captured the AWOL pilots.
In October of 2017, SIGAR reported, “We found that nearly half of all foreign military trainees that went AWOL while training in the United States since 2005 were from Afghanistan (152 of 320).
Of the 152 AWOL Afghan trainees, 83 either fled the United States after going AWOL or remain unaccounted for.”
Back in 2017, the watchdog group announced the unaccounted for Afghan service members were “high-risk.”
The training initiative involving the AC-208 Combat Caravan, a light attack combat aircraft, is mentioned in SIGAR’s recent quarterly report, January 1 to March 31, to Congress. On May 1, SIGAR Chief John Sopko reported, “The AC-208 pilot training classes that were underway in the United States were disbanded due to the number of trainees who were going absent without leave (AWOL).
Those students that did not go AWOL were pulled back to Afghanistan to complete their training: as a result, only one class graduated from the U.S.-based program.”
He went on to add, “The second and third classes will continue and finish their training in Afghanistan.
[NATO/U.S.-led Train, Advise, and Assist Commands] TAAC-Air has a plan to continue the student training and is developing a contract solution to support the effort to train the initial group of AC-208 aircrew. TAAC-Air said the C-208 trainees continue to progress to a self-sustaining level of proficiency.”
Without giving the actual number of pilots who went missing, SIGAR maintained, “Over 40% of the AAF [Afghanistan Air Force] students enrolled in the U.S.-based training went AWOL.”
Last week, SIGAR revealed to the AIR Force Times that the AC-2018 training occurred at Fort Worth, Texas.
The news platform disclosed, “Northrop Grumman operates a 5,000 square-foot custom-built classroom space located at Meacham Airport in Fort Worth.” Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, sanctioned to find the AWOL Afghans after they’re reported missing, “did not immediately respond” when the Air Force Times reached out to them for comment.
According to Breitbart, “The phenomenon of Afghan troops deserting while training in the United States is neither new nor limited to the war-ravaged nation’s air force.” The Air Force Times noted, “It is not uncommon for Afghans to go AWOL while training in the U.S., with many claiming asylum after being apprehended.”
According to Task & Purpose, two Afghan A-29 pilots went missing in December of 2015 while being trained at Moody Air force Base in Georgia. Before this incidence, three Afghan officers disappeared in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They were later found near Niagara Falls on the U.S. border with Canada. One of the officers eventually was given asylum. In 2018, the war-torn country’s first female fixed-wing pilot was given asylum in the U.S.
Sopko revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense, DOD, “runs the risk that the aircraft it delivers will sit idle in Afghanistan without enough pilots to fly them. Furthermore, DOD does not currently have a program in place to train Afghan personnel to maintain the UH-60 Black Hawks.” Days before issuing the most recent quarterly report, Sopko criticised that since Donald J. Trump took office that “Almost every indicia, metric for success or failure is now classified or nonexistent. Over time, it’s been classified, or it’s no longer being collected.”
This week, five people were killed and another 24 individuals injured in a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the heinous act according to CNN.