Afghan Air Force may need NATO aid until 2017
Kabul: NATO officials have said Afghan forces will require air personnel to stay in Afghanistan until 2017, long after most other international combat troops have left.
The Afghan air force is still not ready to take over full combat responsibilities from NATO, and other key functions that support a modern air force.
About 940 NATO trainers, most of whom will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, are focusing on teaching Afghans the most critical air capabilities, i.e., re-supplying remote bases, transporting casualties and ferrying troops into ground combat, the Washington Times reports.
According to the report, the Afghan Air Force is unable to conduct casualty evacuations from the battlefield or even provide medical assistance.
Casualty and medical evacuation capabilities are desperately needed because of the high number of Afghan troops wounded on the battlefield.
The challenges of building a native air force in Afghanistan are many, but three are most important.
First, it takes considerable time to build technical expertise, not just to fly aircraft but also to maintain and repair it, and to ensure that air fields are safe for takeoffs, the report said.
Second, the international aviation language is English, and Afghan air traffic controllers, pilots, and maintenance and support crews must learn how to speak and read it in order to coordinate operations with the rest of the world.
Third, there have been disruptions: In mid-2012, the entire Afghan air force was grounded temporarily because of safety concerns across its fleet, the report added.
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