(JustPatriots.com)- The government watchdog overseeing Afghanistan predicted the collapse of the Afghan Air Force months before the bungled withdrawal of US troops.
In a January 2021 report only made public last week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) noted that the Afghan Air Force was continuing to struggle with a series of problems, including leadership challenges, misuse of aircraft, and a dependence on US and coalition contractors for support.
SIGAR warned that both the United States and Afghanistan’s “lack of focus” on support activities for the Special Mission Wing and the Afghan Air Force could hinder the development of “independent, self-sustained Afghan aviation capability.”
In short, this report was known for six months before President Biden told reporters back in July that the Afghan military and air force were “better trained, better equipped” and “more competent,” and the Taliban would be no match for them.
According to SIGAR’s report, since 2010, the United States spent over $8.5 billion to support the Afghan Air Force. But the special inspector general found that the Afghan Airforce would have to continue to rely on US-funded pilot training.
The SIGAR report found that the Afghan Air Force was struggling with slow capacity development due to a lack of personnel and training, inefficient leadership development, and too few US and coalition advisors.
The watchdog recommended the US and coalition forces coordinate the implementation of formal recruitment strategies and personnel placement, prioritizing support personnel and training.
To ensure the continuation of maintenance, operation, and advisory support, SIGAR recommended the US and coalition forces put in place a mitigation plan before the United States withdraws its contractors from Afghanistan.
If there was a plan, it never was implemented because the Afghan Air Force could not provide air support as the Taliban swept across Khandahar and into Kabul.
In a statement last week, Defense Department spokesman Army Major Rob Lodewick acknowledged the Pentagon was “well aware” of the report and the issues facing the Afghan Air Force a year ago. Maj. Lodewick added that the DoD was “actively” addressing the issues “all the way up to the fall of Kabul.”