TOP News

World: With the US gone, Afghanistan's air force has to rely on Zoom calls to learn how to fix its aircraft

Exclusive: Russia Lays Out Path to Stabilize Afghanistan, Avoid Another 9/11

  Exclusive: Russia Lays Out Path to Stabilize Afghanistan, Avoid Another 9/11 Senior Foreign Policy Writer Tom O'Connor conducted an exclusive interview in Moscow on Tuesday with Russian special representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov.Q: In the broader terms of Russia's approach to Afghanistan, what are its best hopes for the country right now and its greatest concerns as it relates to the current situation?

As the US pullout of Afghanistan nears completion, the Taliban continues to seize territory. It has paraded vehicles and weapons captured from Afghan forces and filmed its execution of 22 surrendering Afghan commandos. Instead, the Afghan Air Force will have to provide that support, but even with billion spent and almost a decade of preparation, it still may not be up to the task. Logistical problems, a lack of trained personnel, and a demanding battlespace are taking its toll on the AAF.

An Afghan air force maintainer works on an UH-60 Blackhawk at Kabul Airbase, May 9, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images The US is reducing its presence in Afghanistan , withdrawing its troops and contractors. The US military has been training Afghanistan ' s air force , which will be key to fighting…

a man wearing a military uniform: An Afghan air force maintainer works on an UH-60 Blackhawk at Kabul Airbase, May 9, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images © MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images An Afghan air force maintainer works on an UH-60 Blackhawk at Kabul Airbase, May 9, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images
  • The US is reducing its presence in Afghanistan, withdrawing its troops and contractors.
  • The US military has been training Afghanistan's air force, which will be key to fighting the Taliban.
  • Without US support, that air force will struggle to maintain its aircraft and its operations.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As the US pullout of Afghanistan nears completion, the Taliban continues to seize territory. It has paraded vehicles and weapons captured from Afghan forces and filmed its execution of 22 surrendering Afghan commandos.

The British Navy's 2 new aircraft carriers hit a major milestone at the same time — on opposite sides of the planet

  The British Navy's 2 new aircraft carriers hit a major milestone at the same time — on opposite sides of the planet It's been a busy fall for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which the Royal Navy calls "the nation's flagships."The drills involved launching and recovering F-35Bs, the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version of the stealth fighter, from HMS Prince of Wales in British waters and HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Pacific — 7,000 miles apart.

Time is running out for US personnel in Afghanistan , which has made Zoom calls necessary to give Afghan forces the training they still need. The text above is a summary, you can read full article here.

With the US gone , Afghanistan ' s air force has to rely on Zoom calls to learn how to fix its aircraft . Time is running out for US personnel in Afghanistan , which has made Zoom calls necessary to give Afghan forces the training they still need. Dozens of Afghan Air Force aircraft flown out of Afghanistan .

While the Afghan military is fighting back, it will soon have to do so without its biggest advantage: US-led coalition airpower.

Instead, the Afghan Air Force will have to provide that support, but even with $8 billion spent and almost a decade of preparation, it still may not be up to the task.

Logistical problems, a lack of trained personnel, and a demanding battlespace are taking its toll on the AAF. Afghan airmen have been training to fix their aircraft over Zoom calls with foreign contractors - a sign of the scramble to prepare for the challenge ahead.

The importance of airpower

a man flying through the air on a snow covered mountain: An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter flies past commandos during a military exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre, October 17, 2017. SHAH MARAI/AFP via Getty Images © SHAH MARAI/AFP via Getty Images An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter flies past commandos during a military exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre, October 17, 2017. SHAH MARAI/AFP via Getty Images

Airpower was vital in ousting the Taliban after the US invasion, and some of the coalition's most important victories were made possible by the coalition's air dominance.

How US drone pilots are preparing for a fight against enemies who actually could knock them out of action

  How US drone pilots are preparing for a fight against enemies who actually could knock them out of action "Man, drones are awesome. They are so good at what they do," a Green Beret told Insider. "Everyone loves them."Hundreds of US drones, also known as remotely piloted aircraft, of various types have spent countless hours tracking terrorists and providing US and coalition troops with early warning.

Along with Afghanistan ' s Special Forces , the Afghan Air Force is a pillar of the nation's strategy for preventing a Taliban takeover of cities. But special operations forces are also being misused, SIGAR reported. It said most Afghan National Army corps refuse to execute missions without support from its elite commandos. With the US gone , Afghanistan ' s air force has to rely on Zoom calls to learn how to fix its aircraft .

With the US gone , Afghanistan ’ s air force has to rely on Zoom calls to learn how to fix its aircraft . The US is reducing its presence in Afghanistan , withdrawing its troops and contractors. The US military has been training Afghanistan ' s air force , which will be key to fighting the Taliban. Air Force Special Operations Command is has had two decades of success against terrorist groups. That has set AFSOC up for a "particularly hard" transition to a new era of competition, its commander says. "If it were easy, somebody else would would be able to do it," Lt.

Airpower is important to military operations in Afghanistan because forces attempting to capture and hold territory will have to mass together to do so, said Seth Jones, director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"They will have vehicles. They will have larger numbers of infantry converging onto targets and in infrastructure. The whole function of airpower is hitting a target, dropping bombs from fixed-wing aircraft and bombers, and taking them out," Jones told Insider.

Air dominance also provides the Afghan military and national police with rapid transportation. Coalition and Afghan helicopters and transport planes can drop hundreds of troops and tons of supplies in remote locations that are otherwise inaccessible because of difficult terrain or Taliban presence.

"It's the air capability that will bring those people there," Jones said. "Ground transport is slow, and in the environment today, the Taliban does control some key roadways."

China, Russia to Train Together Against Terror as Last U.S. Troops Exit Afghanistan

  China, Russia to Train Together Against Terror as Last U.S. Troops Exit Afghanistan More than 10,000 troops from China and Russia will participate jointly in an exercise next month designed to, among other things, enhance their "capability to fight against terrorist forces and jointly safeguard regional peace and security."The Chinese Defense Ministry and Russian Defense Ministry issued a joint statement Thursday stating that the Western Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army will join troops from Russia's Eastern Military District for a large-scale exercise called West-Interaction 2021, which will be held in early and mid-August in the city of Qingtongxia, which lies along the Yellow River in China's northern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The quiet departure from Bagram Air Base brought an effective end to the longest war in U . S Afghan soldiers have been surrendering or abandoning their posts. Militia groups that fought against With the US gone , Afghanistan ' s air force has to rely on Zoom calls to learn how to fix its aircraft .

"Because of that, air is really important in transporting key material, weapons, ammunition, and other kinds of support."

A capable but compromised force

a group of people standing on a snow board: An Afghan A-29 pilot talks to maintainers after a mission, at Kandahar Airbase, May 6, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images © MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images An Afghan A-29 pilot talks to maintainers after a mission, at Kandahar Airbase, May 6, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction's most recent quarterly report, covering the first three months of 2021, the Afghan air force has 162 aircraft, 143 of which were available for operations.


Video: U.S. troops leave Afghanistan air base (NBC News)

The AAF inventory is primarily composed of seven airframes.

For attack, it relies on 23 A-29 Super Tucanos and 10 AC-208 Combat Caravans. For transport, it has 23 C-208 Caravans and 2 C-130s. Its helicopter fleet is made up of 13 Mi-17s, 35 MD-530s (which can also be used for light attack), and 37 UH-60 Blackhawks.

The AAF has already shown its ability to fight and transport essentials. In 2018, it conducted its first emergency combat airdrop of supplies, its first nighttime airstrikes, and dropped its first laser-guided bomb.

Hidden books, secret meetings, precious hope: In Afghanistan, girls risk it all for an education

  Hidden books, secret meetings, precious hope: In Afghanistan, girls risk it all for an education The Taliban effectively banned education for the majority of girls in Afghanistan. But many are now studying in secret.Three months after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, most secondary schools for girls remain closed, with only boys and male teachers allowed back into classrooms. Sadat, 16, is one of a number of female Afghan students risking her safety to educate herself.

But the AAF faces a number of logistical issues that prevent it from being fully effective.

The most recent SIGAR report noted that of the 42 aircrew positions assigned to those seven airframes - such as copilot or mission-system operator - only 18 are filled with qualified personnel. Only one aircraft, the C-130, had more than half of its aircrew positions filled by qualified personnel.

While four of the seven airframes met their readiness benchmarks in the first quarter of 2021, the three that didn't - the MD-530, A-29, and UH-60 - are the most important for attack and transport duties.

Maintenance woes

a man in a military uniform: Afghan maintainers work on an UH-60 Blackhawk at Kabul Airbase, May 9, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images © MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images Afghan maintainers work on an UH-60 Blackhawk at Kabul Airbase, May 9, 2021. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES via Getty Images

Things are particularly bad when it comes to maintenance. Only three of the seven airframes had enough qualified maintenance personnel, according to the SIGAR report.

To keep its aircraft flying, the AAF relies on hundreds of private civilian contractors brought in to train AAF personnel and maintain the aircraft until they are ready to do it themselves.

Those contractors are expected to leave around the same time that the last US troops withdraw, which President Joe Biden has said will be by the end of August.

China Seeks Taliban Promise to Wage War on Uighur Fighters in Afghanistan

  China Seeks Taliban Promise to Wage War on Uighur Fighters in Afghanistan "We hope the Afghan Taliban will make a clean break with all terrorist organizations including the ETIM and resolutely and effectively combat them," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a delegation of the Taliban led by Taliban political committee head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Wednesday, marking the group's latest in a series of international trips as its fighters take territory nationwide in Afghanistan amid a U.S. military withdrawal from the country.

According to the SIGAR report, the NATO command that oversees the training and build-up of the AAF concluded in January that "without continued contractor support, none of the AAF's airframes can be sustained as combat effective for more than a few months."

The training still needed and the shrinking timetable has made Zoom training a reasonable alternative despite challenges of such a hands-off instruction method, but the Afghan military also has to make sure that the AAF continues to receive the spare parts, engines, fuel, ammunition, replacement aircraft, and other material it needs.

Many of these items will likely have to be delivered by air, which is costlier and more time-consuming than ground transport. Given the high operational tempo the AAF will soon face, delays and cutbacks could be severe hindrances.

A hard future

a person standing next to a helicopter: An Afghan air force member loads rockets on an MD-580 helicopter, February 18, 2018. Christine-Felice Röhrs/picture alliance via Getty Images © Christine-Felice Röhrs/picture alliance via Getty Images An Afghan air force member loads rockets on an MD-580 helicopter, February 18, 2018. Christine-Felice Röhrs/picture alliance via Getty Images

The AAF is expected to play a key role in Afghanistan's fight against the Taliban. The Biden administration understands its importance and has promised to continue funding and supplying it.

The AAF too has also shown signs of progress, increasing the number of fully usable aircraft in its inventory and raising its total flight hours year over year.

Some problems may be out of the AAF's control. It relies on trained soldiers to call in airstrikes and to capture and hold territory. With the Afghan government increasingly reliant on local militias, the AAF may be unable to effectively coordinate with ground forces.

The Afghan air force's limited pilot corps doesn't only face threats over the battlefield, however. In recent months, at least seven pilots have been killed while off-base - "targeted and eliminated," a Taliban spokesman said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What Russia, China, Iran Want in Afghanistan When U.S. Troops Leave .
Russia, China and Iran seek to ensure stability in Afghanistan while securing their own interests, as friendly ties with Kabul are tested by a desire to engage with the powerful Taliban movement that has retaken much of the country. RussiaFor Russia, this means stepping up to a longstanding engagement in a country where it has a modern history of intervention and withdrawal.The 1980s Soviet attempt to defend a communist government in Kabul was met with fierce resistance by local and foreign mujahideen fighters, who received support from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

See also