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Pentagon Watchdog Sharply Critical Of Afghan Air Force Reform Efforts

An Afghan Air Force pilot checks a C-130 military transport plane before a flight in Kabul in July.

The Pentagon’s inspector-general has released a report sharply criticizing NATO-led, U.S. supported attempts to reform Afghanistan’s air force, citing gaps in training, support, and a lack of a coherent overarching strategy that has left coalition advisers insufficiently prepared.

The report, dated January 4, was broken down into six main conclusions, five of which contained highly critical remarks on the mission and the Afghan Air Force.

The NATO-run Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air’s (TAAC-Air) “efforts to train, advise, and assist the Afghan Air Force have resulted in notable accomplishments,” according to the report’s executive summary.

However, it “does not have a plan defining the terms of its mission statement to develop the Afghan Air Force into a ‘professional, capable, and sustainable’ force. TAAC-Air cannot track the Afghan Air Force’s progress because they have not defined the intended end state and related metrics for determining the capabilities and capacities of the Afghan Air Force,” it added.

The report states that support and maintenance personnel for the Afghan Air Force are not receiving standardized or consistent training and that the coalition has failed to help develop “the institutional training capability to augment existing Afghan National Army training by incorporating air force-specific requirements.

“The lack of standardized and consistent training limits the development of the Afghan Air Force into a professional, capable, and sustainable air force,” it said.

Recommendations contained in the report include improving contract awards and tracking mechanisms for logistical and maintenance operations to help in the goal of turning the operations over to Afghan Air Force maintenance personnel.