The United States is outfitting the Afghan Air Force with a new, advanced, highly trained air wing to transport its special operations forces after nato goes home. The U.S. is racing to prepare the Afghan military to defend itself, but no matter how many aircraft are put at the Afghans’ disposal, the planes will stay grounded until airmen are taught how to fly them.
Estimates are that the air wing needs 806 people to be effective. As of January, there were only 180 personnel. Why the shortage? For a start, candidates for the program must go through an 18-20 month vetting process that is designed to remove “candidates that have associations with criminal or insurgent activity.” In Afghanistan, where recent history is interwoven with terrorist activity, suitable candidates are a rare thing.