I am no fan of the Afgan war. Having stated that, the following report to Congress (PDF) isn’t as bad as this article from Slate tries to make out via poll results.
Are things improving in Afghanistan? Yes and no. I would defer to some people that have been there. Consider this though. To go in to a tribal dirt insurgent country and do what has already been done is an amazing achievement.
I don’t think anyone is going to be able to declare “victory” in 2011 as some want so as to look good for U.S. political reasons. There is just too much more work to do and so many more billions of dollars to be spent. And even with that what will the U.S. get as a national defense value? Not much. For any real success, the U.S. will have to be in this country (for lack of better words) for tens of years. Everything considered, we are still well into the early stages of OUD.
The slogan for pouring more U.S. tax dollars into Operation: USELESS DIRT should be: “Anything is possible if you are willing to lower your expectations.”
U.S. tax dollars would be better used for nation-building back home.
For the Afghan air force effort; here is some interesting reading.The last sentence which I have put in bold, applies to every organisation that is in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
6.4: Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC)
The Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC) provides a third dimension in maneuver capability, enhancing freedom of action, battlespace situational awareness, intelligence, and air combat support for national military and police forces. Once organized, trained, and equipped, the ANAAC will perform a wide range of missions including presidential airlift, aero-medical evacuation and casualty evacuation, battlefield mobility, airlift, training, and close air support.
Since the last report, the ANAAC continues to increase in size and capabilities. The ANAAC currently includes approximately 3,100 personnel and 46 aircraft, up from 2,538 personnel and 32 aircraft in May 2009. The ANAAC has a fleet of five AN-32s and one AN-26 fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft that provides medium cargo lift.
In addition, in October 2009 the ANAAC acquired its first two U.S.-manufactured C-27 Spartan fixed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft, which will also perform the medium airlift mission. This is historic as it is the first ever Western-built aircraft in the ANAAC inventory. The current plan is to build a medium-lift fleet that includes 20 C-27s by late 2012.
The ANAAC also has battlefield mobility provided by 22 MI-17 helicopters, with three additional MI-17s for presidential lift. In addition, the ANAAC has an additional nine MI-35s for rotary-wing close air support. The MI-35s are projected to be replaced with close air support-capable MI-17s. NTM-A/CSTC-A and the MoD are evaluating a potential light attack/close air support aircraft for purchase in the coming years.
With the assistance of NTM-A/CSTC-A mentors, the ANAAC has expanded its reach with functional air wings at Kabul International Airport and Kandahar Airfield. Future plans include
an air wing and training center at Shindand, as well as air detachments, or flying units, in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and Gardez. NTM-A/CSTC-A and the MoD doubled the size of the Kabul Air Corps Training Center at Kabul International Airport and are in the process of developing an aviation branch school for the ANA.
As capacity and capabilities grow, the ANAAC has had several operational success stories. The ANAAC assisted in the 2009 Presidential election by delivering and retrieving election materials for districts throughout Afghanistan. They provided overhead support following the January 8, 2010 Taliban attack in Kabul. The ANAAC also supported disaster relief and humanitarian operations, including rescuing 75 people after the Salang avalanche in February 2010, when ISAF aircraft were unable to complete the mission, and saving 83 civilians after the Kandahar floods last winter. The ANAAC routinely enables commando kandaks to complete operational air assault missions. Air assault mission successes include support of Operation MOSHTARAK and the capture of a suspected insurgent in RC-West battlespace.
NTM-A/CSTC-A has worked with the MoD over the past year to institute several programs to increase the quality of the ANAAC training and manpower. In 2009, the MoD instituted an Aviator Incentive Pay program to encourage retention of qualified and trained pilots. The ANAAC graduated the first U.S.-trained pilot in over 50 years in 2010 and has had personnel trained as flight surgeons, loadmasters, forward observers, and control staff officers. Future training plans include increased pilot production to develop a young cadre of experienced personnel for Afghanistan.
Despite these efforts, challenges remain. Recruiting will need to be robust over the coming year to mitigate a shortage in pilots and maintenance personnel. Due to the technical nature of the training, new recruits will need to be literate and many will need English language training as well. Capacity of the Kabul Air Corps Training Center must increase to meet the demand for trained technical personnel to perform maintenance on the aircraft fleet, and the ANAAC must continue to add technically capable officers to its leadership ranks. Additionally, it will take time to develop an experienced NCO corps within the ANAAC to create a base of leadership and technical expertise for the force.
H/T-War News Updates