Showing posts with label Afghan-Air-Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Afghan-Air-Force. Show all posts

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Update on Air Operations in Afghanistan (Feb 11, 2018)

A-29 Super Tucano

'Operators' Graduate from ATAC. Special Operators with the Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps and General Command Special Police Units graduated from the ATAC Course at the ANASOC School of Excellence on Feb 1, 2018. Some of the graduates will move on to the ANASOC Air Targeting Officer's  Course to learn how to prepare A-29 fixed-wing and MD-530 light-attack helicopter strike packages. Read more in "Afghan Tactical Air Controllers bring more firepower to the battlefield"NSOCC-A / DVIDS, February 1, 2018.

Afghanistan now the Main Effort. Read more about combat and intelligence-gathering aircraft shifting in the CENTCOM AOR. (VOA, Feb 7, 2018).

RS General Offers 'Glowing' Assessment of AAF. MG James Hecker, director of NATO Air Command - Afghanistan, held a press conference on February 7, 2018. The general is very high on the present and future capabilities of the Afghan Air Force (AAF). As usual, he provides the ever-present statement that "The Taliban cannot win on the battlefield". This, despite the fact, that the rural-based insurgency controls or contests probably 60% of the 399 districts in Afghanistan. In this RS HQs press release he says that ". . . they tried taking districts and couldn't do that either". Perhaps he should learn a little bit about how insurgencies operate and what constitutes 'district control'. Despite the cheer-leading content the RS article is a good indication on how well the AAF is progressing as increases its capacity and capability. Read "Afghanistan's Military Primed to "Cripple" Enemies, Thanks to Increased Air Capabilities", Resolute Support, February 7, 2018.

Another MOAB for Afghanistan? Could the 'Mother of All Bombs' be dropped in air opns in Afghanistan again? Could be . . . (Task & Purpose, Feb 7, 2018).

B-52 Strike on Insurgents in Badakhshan Province. A U.S. Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided bombs on insurgents close to the China and Tajikistan border. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is operating in the region and reportedly use some training camps also used by the Taliban. It is unknown if any ETIM fighters were actually in the training camp during the strike.. See "New U.S. air campaign expands to the north"Resolute Support, February 6, 2018. Read more about the strike on the ETIM in a DoD news release (Feb 7, 2018).

Bombing Afghan Drug Labs? Resolute Support recently applauded its success in inflicting serious financial losses on the Taliban's financial operations when it conducted an extensive bombing campaign against drug labs in Helmand province. But some observers think that RS HQs has inflated the damage done to the Taliban. US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) says that $80 million in damage was inflicted on 25 drug labs. It is an important distinction; especially when considering that some of the aircraft used include the F-22 Raptor with an operating cost of $70,000 per hour. Read more in "Doubts rise over effectiveness of bombing Afghan drug labs", Air Force Times, February 6, 2018.

Video: B-52 Strike on Helmand Province Drug Lab. Watch a video of a Stratofortress hitting a drug lab. (DVIDS, Feb 2, 2018).

A-29s and Laser-Guided Bombs. The Afghan Air Force just started to use laser-guided munitions with their new A-29 Super Tucanos. In addition, some of the C-208 aircraft will be outfitted with laser-guided rockets. How soon the AAF will be able to employ these modern munitions remains to be seen. (Khaama Press, Feb 8, 2018).

AAF is Increasing Its Capability and Capacity . . . But. A lot of news stories are coming out about how the Afghan Air Force will be a game-changer resulting in the defeat of the Taliban. This article is one more such news report. But my question is: "When is the last time air power defeated an insurgency?". Read "Why the Taliban Should Fear the Afghan Air Force", The National Interest, February 8, 2018.

SMW Instructor Pilot Talks about his Job. A pilot with the AAF's Special Mission Wing talks about his job in this short video posted on DVIDS (Jan 8, 2018).

CRU 222 and 777 SMW Training. Read about a time-sensitive target training exercise involving the Afghan Crisis Response Unit 222 and 777 Special Mission Wing in "Afghan elite hone their skills"NSOCC-A / DVIDS, February 3, 2018.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Afghan Air Force (AAF) Update

AAF's  A-29s Using Guided Bombs - Almost. The A-29 Super Tucano began its first combat operations in the Afghan conflict in April 2016. The highly maneuverable aircraft is capable of flying a low altitudes and is an excellent close air support platform for the Afghan National Army (ANA). The A-29 pilots are now learning how to drop laser-guided bombs. Recently two A-29s participated in a training event to employ these very accurate munitions utilizing the on-board Forward Looking Infrared System. The A-29s were piloted by TAAC Air mentors while the back-seater (AAF member) managed the weapons system. Read more in "In another first, Afghan pilots are now dropping laser-guided bombs", Air Force Times, January 28, 2018.

UH-60s Replacing Mi-17s - A Bad Political and Operational Decision. Alexandra Gutowski, a senior military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes how "Blackhawks Threaten to Undermine Afghan Air Force Development", Real Clear Defense, January 29, 2018. Naturally, this is a hot issue. There are those who believe the UH-60 is a great fit for the AAF. Time will tell. Read more news about the UH-60 Black Hawk and AAF.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Air Campaign in Afghanistan a "Game Changer"?

455th AEW Plays Key Role. The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing has been playing a key role in the combined operations against Taliban revenue streams in Helmand province. A large offensive mounted by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces was enabled by air support from the U.S. to interdict and destroy drug processing laboratories and associated targets. Read "455th AEW plays key role in new Taliban offensive"DVIDS, November 24, 2017.

Air Assets Shift to Afghanistan. With the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria winding down the U.S. is shifting air power to support combat operations in Afghanistan. Read "War in Afghanistan Heats Up as Fight Against ISIS Winds Down"DoD Buzz, November 27, 2017.

Air Power in Afghanistan Increases. Airstrikes in Afghanistan are at their highest since 2010. Over 600 airstrikes took place in October 2017. The last time the numbers were this high was in November 2010 with 866 airstrikes. "US Aircraft Return to Surge-Level Operations in Afghanistan"Air Force Magazine, November 21, 2017.

Air Campaign Considered Key Approach. The U.S. is banking a lot on the use of it's air power to stem the tide of the Taliban insurgency. The new approach with looser rules of engagement is considered a 'game changer'. Read "New air campaign in Afghanistan is test for Trump strategy in America's longest war"USA Today, December 1, 2017.

$50 Million of Narcotics Destroyed in Airstrikes? General Nicholson, RS Cdr, claims that the combined ground operations and airstrikes in Helmand province destroyed over $50 million in narcotics. He claims the drug trade is the Taliban's 'financial engine'. Narcotics production doubled in 2017. (VOA, Dec 2, 2017).

AMW Graduates More Crew Members. The Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW) has more qualified crew members for its PC-12 and Mi-17 helicopters. (DVIDS, Nov 25, 2017).

Sunday, November 19, 2017

UH-60 Black Hawks for Afghan Air Force

Training Program for Afghan UH-60 Pilots Explained. The first batch of the Afghan UH-60 pilots are almost finished with the first stage of their training. Mi-17 pilots are transitioning from the Russian helicopter to the U.S. utility helicopter. The training consists of classroom work and hands on training in the Black Hawk. The three phases of training cover many weeks. The first phase covers the basics. The second phase (10 weeks long) introduces the pilots to the mission tactics employed by the UH-60. The third phase completes the training.

Video - First Afghan Black Hawk Pilots to Graduate, Resolute Support HQs, November 16, 2017. (2-minute video on the UH-60 program for the AAF).

UH-60 Black Hawks - Saving Afghanistan One Helicopter at a Time. The United States military and Resolute Support Headquarters are really pushing the narrative that the UH-60 Black Hawk will be a 'game changer' for the conflict in Afghanistan. However, there are some problems with that story line. Read an informative article on this topic by Pamela Constable entitled "U.S. wants to build 'tsunami of air power' in Afghanistan, but impact is years away"The Washington Post, November 12, 2017.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Videos on Afghanistan

Video on UH-60s for AAF. The Deputy Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A), MG Neil Thurgood, does a good job in explaining the need for an increase in the number of rotary-wing aircraft for the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Of concern is the move to supply the Afghan Air Force (an organization with poor maintenance skills) with the very complicated and maintenance-intensive UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. What is good for the politicians and businessmen (Sirkorsky) of Connecticut isn't necessaryily good for the Afghan Air Force. Watch the 3-minute long video produced by Resolute Support Headquarters published on July 10, 2017.

Video Explanation of CSTC-A. This one-minute long video by Resolute Support Headquarters published on July 11, 2017 explains the role of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A). Major General Richard Kaiser - the Commanding General of CSTC-A - provides an explanation of how CSTC-A helps the Afghan security institutions.

Peace Process and Participation of Women. Resolute Support has released a video (July 13, 2017) featuring Maria Bashar - an activist for human rights who believes that a peace and reconciliation process cannot be successful if half of the population is left out of it.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Afghan Security News

AAF A-29s to MeS. According to Afghan press accounts the Afghan Air Force has posted two A-29 Super Tucano Light Attack Aircraft to the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan. Many parts of Afghanistan has seen a deteriorating security situation and this includes northern Afghanistan. The A-29s can carry heavy weapons to target anti-government armed militants. The aircraft is a multi-role, fixed-wing aircraft that provides a air-to-ground capability and aerial reconnaissance capabilities IOT support the country's counterinsurgency efforts. Read more in "Afghan Air Force receives light attack aircraft in Mazar-e-Sharif", Khaama Press, March 7, 2016.

AAF - Full Strength in 2020? The outgoing Resolute Support commander, Gen Campbell, recently said that the Afghan Air Force won't receive all of its aircraft until 2018 and that it won't be fully effective until 2020. No worries, the aircraft will still have plenty to do in 2020. This war will continue for several more years. Read "Afghan Air Force To Reach Required Strength Levels by 2020", Tolo News, March 12, 2016.

TAAC-Air & AAF. The advisors from the Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air are working 'shoulder to shoulder' with the AAF to build a sustainable air force. Read more in a press release by DVIDS, March 10, 2016.

Govt Retreat from Shahidid Hassas District. On March 1st Afghan government troops abandoned a district in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. See "Afghan forces withdraw from district in Uruzgan", Threat Matrix, March 9, 2016.

Kabul Fire Dept Targeted. A suicide bomber attacked the Kabul Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon (Mar 9th) in Kabul city. (Tolo News, Mar 9, 2016)

Suicide Blast in Kabul. A heavy explosion rocked Kabul city on March 9th (Wed) after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in PD 2. The bomber was the only fatality as he experienced a premature explosion. The incident happened near the Ministry of Finance. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016).

Taliban Infighting in Herat. There are reports of fierce clashes between Taliban factions in the western province of Herat, Afghanistan. It appears that two top Taliban leaders have been killed, over 60 killed, and more than 60 wounded. (Khaama Press, Mar 9, 2016). See also "Scores of Taliban Fighters Killed in Infighting", Gandhara Blog, March 9, 2015.

Premature Withdrawal? The outgoing commander of U.S. Central Command told lawmakers this past week that it may be prudent to reconsider the plan to reduce the American military forces presence in Afghanistan. Given the recent increase in the Taliban's activity it is likely that the reduction from 9,800 to 5,500 by the start of next year is going to be delayed. Read more in "Planned Drawdown of US Forces in Afghanistan May be Premature: Centcom", March 8, 2016.

More Authorities Needed in Afghanistan? According to one news report General John Campbell, prior to his departure as the Resolute Support commander, was seeking a modification of authorities for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Although he recognized he would not see an increase in troops he was able to get the Obama administration to slow down the withdrawal rate of troops. What is unclear is if he was able to loosen up the Ruled of Engagement (ROE) for air support (air strikes) and the levels that U.S. troops could conduct the Train, Advise and Assist mission. Currently advisors are located at the MoI, MoD, and the the Afghan National Army corps (although two corps - 201st and 203rd - see part-time advisors) and SOF troops are advising at the kandak level for the Afghan special operations units. We certainly pulled our advisors off the 201st and 203rd corps way too early; and it probably was inadvisable to take them off the brigade hqs as well. Read more in "U.S. general sought greater powers in Afghanistan before exit", Reuters, March 11, 2016.

China Offering Military Aid. One news report indicates that the deteriorating security and emergence of the Islamic State in Afghanistan has prompted China to deepen its engagement. Read more in "China Offers Afghanistan Army Expanded Military Aid", The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2016. (requires subscription).

Ireland Ends Mission. Resolute Support Headquarters held a ceremony a week ago to observe the completion of the Irish Defense Forces military mission in Afghanistan. Following fifteen years of unbroken service with both the NATO ISAF and RS missions the final contingent will redeploy to Ireland. See "Ireland commemorates end of military mission in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, March 12, 2016.

Video - Gurkhas Training Up. A unit of the UK is going to deploy to Afghanistan. Naturally the soldiers will do some predeployment training. We get to view (in five quick minutes) some of that training in No Rest for Gurkhas On Intensive Afghanistan Training, Forces TV (UK), March 10, 2016.

Fractured Taliban? One defense official says that ISIL is contained in Afghanistan and that the Taliban is fractured. Sounds almost optimistic. Read more in a defense press release by DoD News, March 10, 2016.

Women in Afghanistan

International Women's Day. The world recognized the annual International Women's Day this past week. All the major players provided news releases on the progress and obstacles in advancing women's rights.

CSTC-A and Women. The Combined Security Transition Command j- Afghanistan (CSTC-A) recently celebrated International Women's Day. A keynote speaker (see photo above) was Maj. Gen. Gordon "Skip" Davis, Jr. Every photo I ever see of this guy has him smiling! There is something seriously wrong here. Doesn't he know that he has three very good reasons not to be so jolly? 1) He lives and works on that small postage stamp of real estate in Kabul known as Camp Resolute Support, 2) he is in a war zone, and 3) he is tasked with training up the ANA and ANP. Hmmmm. Read more in a news press release by DVIDS, March 9, 2016.

AAF and Women. The Afghan Air Force hosted an International Women's Day conference on March 6th at the Kabul Air Wing. Approximately 200 AAF and Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) military men and women attended the event to include guest speakers from the AAF commander to a young Afghan girl reading poetry. (DVIDS, Mar 8, 2016).

Role of Afghan Women. Laura Bush (former 1st Lady) is an honorary co-chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and chair of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She has penned an opinion piece about women in Afghanistan where she explores the progress made for women in Afghanistan over the past 15 years and identifies the areas that still need further advances. Read "How Afghanistan's women are helping the country move forward", The Washington Post, March 7, 2016.

Book - We Are Afghan Women. The George W. Bush Presidential Center is publishing a book about Afghan women. The book is being released . . . timed with International Women's Day. "The book spotlights the stories of 29 inspiring and heroic Afghan women in their own voices and records their extraordinary struggles, resolve, and will to triumph in present-day Afghanistan." Read more about We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.

Former Female Afghan War Vets Import Saffron. Members of the Harvard University community who are also veterans of the Afghan conflict have been importing saffron from Afghanistan. They operate a firm called Rumi Spice. The founders of the firm are a unique group of people - male, female, route clearance, Cultural Support Team, etc. Read more in "Veterans behind Rumi Spice source saffron directly from Afghan farmers", Food Navigator, March 9, 2016.

Court Reduces Sentences in Mob Killing of Farkhunda. Four men sentenced to death for the killing of a woman named Farkhunda (which received widespread international attention) have had their sentences reduced to as little as ten years in prison. (The New York Times, Mar 9, 2016).

Short Film - Masculinity in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) conducted some research titled The Other Side of Gender Inequality: Men and Masculinities in Afghanistan. A film based on this research was filmed. It has English subtitles and is 20 minutes long, and posted on on March 9, 2016. A little bit of culture about being a man and a women in Afghan society.

IDLG Wants More Women in Govt. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance has called for a stronger presence of women in local governance across Afghanistan. (Tolo News, Mar 7, 2016).

Radio Shaesta - Back on the Air. An Afghan women's radio station was put off the air as a result of the Taliban attack and subsequent occupation of the Kunduz city this past fall. The radio station was ransacked and the broadcasting equipment was confiscated or destroyed. But . . . they are back up and running. Read "Afghan Women's Radio Returns After Taliban Attack", Voice of America, March 8, 2016.

Women Reporters in Afghanistan. There are some difficulties and cultural barriers that women journalists face when reporting from Afghanistan. Read the story of two women reporters that were in northern Afghanistan in late 2001 in "No Woman's Land: On the Frontline with Female Reporters", International News Safety Institute, March 7, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Advising the AAF

The Resolute Support Mission is two-fold; conducting counterterrorism operations and train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF). An important part of the ANDSF is the Afghan Air Force (AAF). To do the Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA) mission with the AAF the United States (and its coalition partner nations) has air advisors working with the AAF as part of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - Air or TAAC-Air. A recent paper provides us with a break down of the essential components of a successful air advising posture, applies it to the mission in Afghanistan, and concludes with a summary of key points and suggest areas for improvement. The authors of the paper are Lt Col Aaron Tucker of the USAF and Colonel Aimal Pacha Sayedi of the Afghan Air Force. Read Advising the Afghan Air Force, National Defense University Press, January 1, 2016.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Four New A-29 Super Tucanos for AAF

Photo: Resolute Support HQs, Jan 15, 2016
Four A-29 Super Tucanos touched down at Kabul's international airport in mid-January 2016. It has taken a long time (years) to get to this stage but Afghanistan has finally got some fixed-wing aircraft so that the Afghan Air Force (AAF) can provide air support in its counterinsurgency fight against the Taliban. The A-29 is a light-support aircraft capable of conducting close air support, aerial escort, armed overwatch, and aerial interdiction. The first Afghan A-29 pilots completed over 300 days of flight training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, (U.S.) in December 2015. The pilots and their aircraft should be combat-ready in April. The AAF is expected to receive 20 a-29s in the next few years. Watch a short video (1 min) posted by Resolute Support hqs on on January 16, 2016 entitled The Afghan National Airforce gets four new A29s

On a related note, one of the two missing Afghan airmen who disappeared in the United States in December 2015 has been located. The two were part of a group of 14 undergoing maintenance training for the A-29 aircraft at Moody AFB. One of the men was an AAF lietuenant while the other was a senior master sergeant. They went missing one week prior to their scheduled graduation and return to Afghanistan. (ABC News, Jan 14, 2016).

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Security News

Kabul Airport Suicide Bombings. A VBIED struck the gates of Kabul airport on Monday morning, January 4th. The driver's suicide vest went off but the explosives in the truck did not. (Reuters, Jan 4, 2016). A second truck bomb attack took place later in the day in the vicinity of the airport - near a contractor's compound. Some reports say that this was Camp Baron.  The Baron Hotel in Kabul (one mile from the international airport) is a nice place to live as a contractor (or visitor) if you can afford it.  Other reports say it was Camp Sullivan - a location that houses U.S. embassy employees and security personnel. Read more on these attacks in "Taliban claim suicide attack on contractor camp in Kabul"Yahoo! News, January 5, 2016.

U.S. Embassy Low-Balling Compound Damage? The second truck bomb caused extensive structural damage against the outer wall and inside wall of the compound. Over 30 people were injured including nine children. There were also a number of deaths - but the U.S. embassy seems to be mum about the entire incident. Read more in "Is the U.S. Embassy in Kabul the next Benghazi?", Project on Government Oversight (POGO), January 7, 2016.

Bombed French Restaurant Update. See "Taliban target was a pricey French restaurant, but their victims were Afghans"Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2016.

Winter Offensive. "Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and heavy snowfall have traditionally prompted a winter lull in fighting, with the militants using the colder months to rest and regroup ahead of an annual spring offensive". Frud Bezhan tells us about the Taliban's fighting during the 'winter lull' in "The Taliban's Rare Winter Offensive in Afghanistan", Radio Free Europe, January 8, 2016.

Map of Taliban Control. The year 2015 saw the Taliban controlling more territory than at any other time in the 14 year long conflict (U.S. involvement) since 2001. The Afghan National Defense  and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been pummeled by the insurgents and significant areas of Afghanistan are now under Taliban control. Read more in "Mapped: The Taliban Surged in 2015, but ISIS is Moving In on Its Turf", Foreign Policy, January 4, 2016.

Mi-17 Crash. On Sunday, January 3rd an Afghan Air Force (AAF) Mi-17 helicopter crashed south of Kabul killing 3 Afghan soldiers. The crash took place in the Mohammad Agha district of Logar province. Reports indicate that the chopper was on a training day time flight. (Pajhwok Afghan News, Jan 3, 2016).

General's Convoy Attacked. A convoy carrying a German general was hit in a suicide car-bomb attack near the Kabul airport this past Monday. (Daily Mail, Jan 4, 2016).

Helmand Province. The 215th Maiwand Military Corps commander, MG Mohammad Moin Faqir, says that the security situation in Helmand should improve slowly over time. He says that widespread poppy cultivation and drug trafficking fuels insecurity and provides revenue to the Taliban. The general says that recent operations helped secure several of the provinces districts to include Marjah. Representatives of the Afghan Local Police dispute this claim saying the road from the provincial capital to the district of Marjah is not secured. Read more in "Helmand security to improve soon, says military commander", Pajhwok Afghan News, January 8, 2016.

Provincial HPC Chief Shot Dead. Qari Saifuddin Sadat, the chief of the High Peace Council for the northern province of Samangan was killed on Tuesday, January 5th.

Celebration Fires. On January 6th Kabul erupted with lots of weapons firing into the air on the occasion of the Afghan cricket team defeating Zimbabwe. There seems to be a lack of understanding of what goes up will eventually come down. Some good ammo wasted that could have been better used at some police district centers in Helmand province.

IS & Taliban Fight. Three districts of Nangarhar province are seeing intense fighting between groups of the Islamic State and the Taliban. The usual winter break in the fighting is not being observed very well this year.

Special Anti-IS Force. The Afghan army is forming up a special battalion (kandak) comprised of about 750 former Afghan army members to fight the Islamic State in the eastern part of Afghanistan. They will be based at the 201st Corps headquarters in Laghman province. The base is just a few klics from the Nangarhar province border - where IS is operating. (Voice of America, Jan 6, 2016).

Indian Consulate Attacked in MeS. The consulate for India was attacked in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif on January 3, 2016. No Indian fatalities were reported among the staff and it appears the gunmen were unsuccessful in breaching the security of the consulate. It took a few days for Afghan commandos to dislodge some of the attackers from a house near the consulate compound. All three attackers were killed as well as one (maybe two) Afghan policeman. Some reports say there were four attackers and that the incident lasted 25 hours; not a few days. See "Siege Ends Near Indian Consulate in Northern Afghanistan", Gandhara Blog, January 5, 2016.

Taliban Review 2015. The Taliban has disseminated what some are calling a progress report on its 2015 activities. Read more in "Taliban Claims Large Swath of Afghan Territory During 2015", Voice of America, January 2, 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Afghan Air Force Update

A-29 Tucanos to Arrive. Afghanistan will be getting a COIN airframe - the A-29 Tucano - to assist in the never-ending and escalating threat posed by the insurgents. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) will soon receive 4 light attack aircraft in January 2016. The long-delayed program will be a significant boost to the AAF - which has been lacking in air support capability since the U.S. has withdraw the bulk of its Army and Air Force airframes. It took the USAF a long time to award the contract (Congress interfered as usual in addition to the USAF bureaucracy) and get the program up and running. But then . . . we have only been fighting this war since 2001. Read "Afghan Air Force expecting to receive 4 light attack aircraft in January", Khaama Press, December 22, 2015. See also "After Delays, A-29 Attack Aircraft to arrive in Afghanistan in 2016",,  December 28, 2015.

Afghan A-29 Pilots Trained - or at Least Some of Them. Eight (or nine, depending on which USAF press release you read) Afghan Air Force pilots just completed (Dec 15) almost a year's worth of training on the A-29 aircraft at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia (U.S.). There would have been two more but in the early part of December, just prior to graduation, two of the prospective pilots left base and disappeared. (Some news reports now say they were maintenance personnel). I presume they have crossed over into Canada or have found employment washing dishes in a D.C. Afghan restaurant. Along with the graduating pilots are twelve maintainers that also completed training. The crews are expected to be ready for combat operations at the beginning of the spring fighting season. More pilot training is expected to take place in the future. Read more in "First Afghan A-29 pilots, maintainers finish training", Air Force Times, December 22, 2015.

Mi 25 Attack Helicopter Arrives. India has decided to help out the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) with some counterinsurgency aircraft as well. It decided - just a few months ago in November 2015 - to provide four of the extremely effective COIN helicopters to the Afghans and one has reached Kabul already. Contrast that with the plodding of the U.S. Air Force in the A-29 program! Three more of the Mi 25's will soon arrive. The Mi-25 come equipped with machine guns, rocket and grenade launchers. Earlier in the year the Indians provided three Cheetal utility helicopters. (The Economic Times, Dec 22, 2015). For one observer, Michael Kugelman, this apparent shift by the Indian government to provide military arms speaks volumes. Read "The most important arms deal you've never heard of", War on the Rocks, December 22, 2015.

Air Power Turning the Tide? Some are heartened by the addition of more aircraft to the AAF inventory. The added capability will provide better close air support to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. I am not so sure. Afghanistan's security problems are more related to poor leadership, corruption, lack of cross-pillar coordination, and a horribly ineffective and divided government. A few additional airframes that probably won't fly much because of maintenance problems won't make that much difference. But it is a new year - let's be optimistic! Read "Air Power Could Turn Tide in Favor of Afghan Forces in 2016", Voice of America, December 31, 2015.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Security News

A-29 Super Tocano
A-29's Soon to Deploy - Minus a Few Pilots. Two Afghan Air Force (AAF) pilots who have been training at with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in the United States since February are now missing. While they pose no threat to the U.S. (let's hope) the AAF is now short two very valuable pilots for their not-yet-introduced and very-late-in-deploying counterinsurgency close air support planes. The pilots are probably happier washing dishes in the kitchen of a D.C. restaurant than flying around Afghanistan getting shot at. (USA Today, Dec 9, 2015).

USAF Mission in Afg. The Diplomat's Franz-Stafan Gady is currently in Afghanistan reporting on the ongoing war against militants in the country. His latest report is "Afghanistan: US Air Force's Mission Has Not Changed" dated December 11, 2015.

Info on B-1 Bomber. Wesley Morgan writes about the missions of a USAF bomber in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). Read "The B-1 bomber: The underappreciated workhorse of America's air wars", The Washington Post, December 30, 2015.

Kandahar Airport Attacked by Taliban. Insurgents and Afghan security forces battled on Wednesday, Dec 9th after Taliban militants stormed the airport complex in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. As many as 37 people died during the attack with an another 35 plus wounded. Some reports put casualties above 50. The insurgents wore ANDSF uniforms. (Los Angeles Times, Dec 9, 2015). See also "Afghan airport remains closed after Taliban launches daring attack", The Washington Post, December 9, 2015.

Insurgent Groups Duking it Out in Shindand. Rival Taliban factions loyal to Mullah Akhtar Mansour (recently wounded or killed depending on the press report) and Mullah Abdul Rasool have been clashing in a district in Herat province. Go for it!

Spanish Embassy Attacked. Insurgents mounted an attack on Friday, Dec 11th against a guesthouse near the Spanish Embassy in Kabul. Two Spanish policemen and four Afghan police officers were among the dead. The three insurgent attackers were killed. The attack began with a car bomb blast against the gate of the guesthouse. The US Embassy in Kabul issues a statement condemning the attack. Some Twitter accounts say that Norwegian SOF along with Afghan SOF responded, probably the Crisis Response Unit, to the attack. (BBC News, Dec 11, 2015). And "Fighting in Kabul's Diplomatic Quarter Ends, Afghan Officials Say", The New York Times, December 12, 2015.

Taliban Offensive in Helmand Province. The Taliban have made some gains in Helmand province this past fighting season and it appears that the fighting season is still ongoing. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have had trouble holding on to some of the districts in the province. Reportedly Khansheen district has fallen to the Taliban after weeks of seige and intense fighting. Read the plight of villages in Chah-e Anjir village in a news report - "Afghan Village 'A Living Hell' Amid Fighting", Gandhara Blog, December 8, 2015.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mi-35's for Afghan Air Force?

Some news outlets are reporting that Afghanistan may receive more Mi-35 gunship helicopters from Russia. The Mi-35 is the export model of the Mi-24 HIND D that wreak lots of havoc during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan a few decades back. Currently the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has five Mi-35's but only one or two are flying depending on maintenance. The U.S. is providing twenty A-29 Super Tocanos but that deal has been years in the making and for some reason the aircraft won't be fully deployed until 2016 and 2017 (not exactly a timely solution). The U.S. also put some armament on some of the MD-530s (a small reconnaissance helicopter) but the Afghans are not very impressed with that 'little bird'. The U.S. has also outfitted some of the Mi-17s (a transport helicopter) with guns - which some Afghans refer to as a "flying tractor". The Afghans like the Mi-35 and hopefully the Russians can come through with the deal. So . . . I can just see it now. Russian maintenance and pilot instructors working hand-in-hand with advisors from Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) while U.S. pilots are dodging Russian missiles fired from Russian naval vessels in the Caspian Sea and Russian jets in Syrian airspace. Perhaps the Russians can discreetly share some of their vodka with their U.S. counterparts. Call it an "ice breaker". Interesting times. Read more in "Afghanistan and Russia to sign a deal for delivery of Mi-35 gunships", Khaama Press, October 9, 2015. See also "Russia to Sell Modern Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan", The Diplomat, October 9, 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

News about Afghan Air Force (AAF)

U.S. Struggles to Build AAF. Rod Nordland of the NYT details the problems the U.S. has in building the Afghan Air Force (AAF). (The New York Times, September 27, 2015).

Fluff Piece on AAF? In what appears to be press copy from a Resolute Support news release we hear a very positive report on the Afghan Air Force. Read "Afghanistan's airmen on track to assume key role in war, US advisors say", Stars and Stripes, September 26, 2015.

Negative Press on MD-530s? So what do you do when folks criticize the helicopter the U.S. is buying for the Afghan Air Force? Well - issue your own press release. Read "MD refutes Afghan MD 530F criticisms", Shepard Media, October 1, 2015.

MD-530's head to Helmand. In late September 2015 the Afghan Air Force (AAF) sent some of its helicopters to the volatile southwest of Afghanistan. The MD-530 Warrior is called "Jengi" (Dari) by the Afghans. It is used for convoy escort, aerial reconnaissance, armed over-watch, and close air support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Read more in "MD-530 "Jengi" helicopters depart Kabul for first expeditionary operations in Helmand", Khaama Press, October 1, 2015.

Force Management. Two U.S. Air Force NCOs (MSgt's Neal Harris and Andrea Brown) assist the Afghans in developing their Tashkil requirements for 2016. Read "Force Management Airmen shape Afghan Air Force for fighting season 2016", DVIDS, October 2, 2016.

PC-12 Pilatus Surveillance Aircraft. This small aircraft is providing imagery using for supporting Afghan's special operations forces on the ground. The 17 Pilatus planes were bought by the U.S. for the Afghan army's special operations forces under a $218 million contract. Read more in "Small spy planes make big difference on Afghan battlefield"Stars and Stripes, September 26, 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Airpower & Afghan Air Force

90 Years of AAF at Shindand Air Base. The Afghan Air Force may not be much to look at now but if one looks back it has a long history - almost 90 years. In fact, in the 1960s it had one of the top Air Forces in the region.  Read more in "Shindand Air Base Celebrates 90 Years of AAF"Tolo News, August 25, 2015.

Russian Gunships for AAF. Russia is prepared to supply the Afghan Air Force with Mi-35 attack helicopters. Read more in a news report by Khaama Press, August 26, 2015.

Profile of AE Tech Sgt. A North Carolina Air Guardsman brings a diverse background to Bagram Air Fields aeromedical evacuation mission. Read a news report by DVIDS, August 24, 2015.

Reapers & Predators in Afghanistan. According to one Air Force report Reapers and Predators are responsible for about 90% of ISR for Afghanistan. Read more in "Reapers, Predators on the prowl in Afghanistan", U.S. Air Force News, August 24, 2015.

Lack of Legal Justification for Drone Attacks in Pakistan. "This article focuses on the justification and legal position of Drone attacks within the boundaries of a sovereign state. It examines the legality of drone attacks under international law and the US domestic law." "US Drone Attacks in Pakistan: An International Law Perspective", International Journal of Business and Social Science, Vol. 6, No. 6., June 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

AAF News

Airlift Contract for AAF. The Afghan Air Force will be supported by MAG DC Corp out of Woodbridge, Virginia. MAG DC was recently awarded a $12 million contract for airlift support for the Afghan Air Force. It has a completion date of August 2018.

Profile of USAF Chaplain Team for TAAC-Air. Learn about the chaplain team deployed to Afghanistan to support AAF advisors in "USAF chaplain team supports TAAC-Air, provides for diverse religious needs"DVIDS, August 22, 2015.

AAF and the VMTP. The Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) has advisors and contractors working to refine Afghan Air Force logistics, reduce new acquisitions and programs and create a sustainable and capable air force to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in the coming years. The Vehicle Maintenance Training Program (VMTP) is one focus area that will get the AAF to this sustainable state. Read more in "Afghan Air Force trains to develop vehicle maintenance master instructors", DVIDS, August 20,2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Afghan Air Force (AAF)

MD Cayuse Warrior Choppers now in Combat. The long awaited arrival of the Afghan Air Force's MD-520F Cayuse Warrior scout-attack helicopter on the field of battle has occurred. It appears that the helicopter has made its first foray into the fray in some rural districts south of Jalalabad. The helicopters have been armed with 50 calibre machine guns and armored protection. (Flight Global, Aug 12, 2015). Read also "Afghan Air Force to receive 5 More Attack Helicopters"The Diplomat, August 14, 2015. In addition, Khaama Press (August 13, 2015) chats on the same topic.

Afghan Visit to U.S. Air University. Two Afghan Air Force officers from Pohantoon-e-Hawayee (PeH) or the Afghan Air Academy visited the United States Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. (Where it almost gets as hot as Afghanistan!). They were escorted by a TAAC-Air senior advisor. Read more in a news release by DVIDS, August 15, 2015.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Afghan Air Force and Air Support

4th C-130 Arrives. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) received its fourth C-130 from the U.S. Air Force in late June. This completes a five-year plan to replace the troubled C-27A transport aircraft program (20 two-engine transport aircraft) with the larger four-engine C-130. The C-27A program was scrapped because the AAF couldn't maintain the smaller two-engine plane. Evidently the U.S. Air Force feels that the Afghans are capable of maintaining the larger and more complex C-130. Hmmmmm. Read more in "Fourth C-130 touches down in Kabul, expands Afghan Air Force capabilities", DVIDS, June 22, 2015.

AAF MD 530F's Get 2.75 Inch Rockets. The Afghan Air Force will be upgrading its MD 530's with rockets. (Defense, Jul 14, 2015).

Afghan Airspace Management. The Afghans still are unable to manage their own airspace. The U.S. will continue to take care of Afghan airspace traffic for a few more months - through mid-September - giving Afghanistan time to transfer control to an international company with an 18-month to two-year contract.

MC-12W Project Liberty Team. Contractors providing maintenance support for MC-12 ISR aircraft in Afghanistan are highlighted in a DVIDS news release (June 27, 2015).

Special Mission Wing (SMW). Two U.S. Air Force advisors inform us about the Afghan Special Mission Wing in an article posted in Army Aviation Magazine.

TAAC-Air Provides Medic Training. Advisors provided training for Afghan flight medics who will perform duties on C-130 medevacs. (U.S. Air Force, Jul 15, 2015).

Air Advisor Academy Closes. As always happens when an era of counterinsurgency and stability operations comes to a close (it hasn't but the 4-stars think it has) cost cutting measures decimate the advisory and COIN training capacity of the military services. We saw this happen with the U.S. Army at Fort Polk (reduced staff at advisor school - 162nd Brigade) and closing of the Irregular Warfare Center (formerly the COIN Center). Now the Air Force has jumped on board. The U.S. Air Force is shutting the doors of the Air Advisor Academy located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. (Air Force Today, Jul 14, 2015).  In a time of budget constraints something has to give so the Air Force can afford their new F-35 jet. The Joint Strike Fighter is only $200 billion over budget and three years behind schedule. The closing of the Air Advisor Academy is an unfortunate development - just when we appear to get one of the advisor training programs right we cancel out the training capacity. Some critics see the shift from advisor training and COIN missions as a good thing while others see a future where the U.S. cannot avoid "nation building" type conflicts. (National Review, Jul 14, 2015).

U.S. Airstrikes Continue. It appears that the U.S. is stepping up its airstrikes in Afghanistan in support of the ANDSF and the U.S. counterterrorism mission (The New York Times, Jul 15, 2015).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

AAF Hind Gunships: Little Time Left

Mi-35 Gunships Going Away. The Pentagon doesn't want to do business with Russia anymore. This has an effect on the Afghan Air Force which depends on Russian built and maintained helicopters for its Afghan Air Force. One of these helicopters is the Russian 'flying tank' or Mi-35 Hind Attack Helicopter. These Mi-35s will probably not be flying a year from now as they are getting old and falling apart. At one time the AAF had nine Mi-35s but since then they are at between 2 and 4 that are actually flying. Many of the Hinds were cannibalized for spare parts. The U.S. has decided to provide the Afghan Air Force with the MD-530F (made by an American firm of course). The AAF will receive a total of 12 armed MD-530Fs and guns and armor will be added to five other MD-530s that are currently used to train Afghan pilots. The MD-530F is nimble and fast but it carries fewer weapons than the Hind and it doesn't have nearly as much armored protection. The MD-530F is a stop-gap measure until the A-29 Super Tucano is delivered and integrated into operations. Read "Afghanistan's Iconic Hind Gunships Won't Fly Much Longer", by Joseph Trevithick, War is Boring, April 22, 2015.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Paper - Helicopter Options for Partner Nations

RAND Corporation has published a report that could be useful to air advisors of TAAC Air who are training, advising, and assisting the Afghan Air Force. The paper, entitled "Cost-Effective Helicopter Options for Partner Nations" was published in April 2015. It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF, 67 pages long, and 4 MBs big. The authors conducted an analysis on several helicopters - both utility and attack. The Mi-17 transport helicopter currently in use by the Afghan Air Force is compared with several other helicopters of a similar class. Some of the research questions that the paper attempts to answer include:

1. What types of missions does the US want partner nations to accomplish?
2. What are the capabilities of various helicopters to execute these missions?
3. What are the most cost-effective helicopters for accomplishing these missions?