Showing posts with label air-support. Show all posts
Showing posts with label air-support. 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, 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, January 24, 2016


Airpower and COIN. Much of the focus on combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been the heavy use of airpower by the United States and its coalition partners. Some critics believe that air strikes are not enough and 'boots on the ground' are required. Others see a need for more special operations forces to train and advise the moderate Syrian rebels and the Iraqi military forces along with targeted strikes against ISIS leaders. Certainly what has become apparent is that ISIS will not be degraded or defeated by just airpower. One observer is Christoper A. Lawrence - the Executive Director and President of the Dupuy Institute. He has penned an article entitled "Airpower: Just Part of the Counterinsurgency Equation"Small Wars Journal, January 18, 2016.

His viewpoint is that there is no concrete evidence that airpower has destroyed an insurgency. I agree with the author that airpower is limited in its ability to counter an insurgency; but am troubled with comparing the Islamic State to an insurgency; I think they past the stage of insurgency in Iraq and Syria - at the moment. ISIS controls territory and masses forces to both gain and defend territory. Once an insurgency moves to a more conventional phase they start to present targets. Of course, more than just airpower is needed to defeat ISIS - advisors and ground forces are needed; but not necessarily U.S. ground troops.

A-29s Arrive in Kabul. The U.S. Air Force delivered four A-29 Super Tucanos to the Afghan Air Force in January 2016. Read more in "Afghan Air Force receives first four A-29s", U.S. Air Force News, January 19, 2016.

India's Mi-35 Helicopters. The four helicopters recently provided by India to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) are almost operational and may soon see combat in Helmand province. Read "India's Mi-35 Helicopters Ready for First Battle in Afghanistan", NDTV, January 21, 2016.

More C-208B Aircraft? The U.S. DoD has approved a new contract for 18 additional C-208B aircraft for the Afghan Air Force. The contract is worth about $55 million. (, Jan 22, 2016).

A-10 Retirement Delayed. "After trying to retire the battle-tested A-10 Warthog for the past two years, Air Force officials concede that the plane is key to the war on ISIS", Read "Air Force to Delay A-10 Retirement, Thanks to ISIS"Defense One, January 13, 2016.

Video - 25 Years of Bombing. The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has produced a 5-minute long video entitled 25 Years of Bombing Iraq published on on January 14, 2016. The narrator provides a brief history of airpower and analyzes the contributions and limitations of airpower.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Air Power

Should We Unleash America's Airpower in Afghanistan? David Petraeus (former ISAF commander and CIA Director) and Michael O'Hanlon (a cheerleader for a deeper involvement of U.S. forces in Afghanistan) combined in this opinion piece to argue that we need to increase the air strikes in Afghanistan to help the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces until such time that their air force can get up to speed. They argue that while the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coalition partners are conducting daily strikes to defeat (or degrade) the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria much less is being done in Afghanistan. Read more in "It's time to unleash America's airpower in Afghanistan"The Washington Post, January 14, 2016.

RoE for Air Support Too Restrictive? Eli Lake,  a columnist who writes on foreign affairs and national security, shares his view on tight Rules of Engagement (ROE) for use of airpower in Afghanistan in "U.S. Forces Tied by Old Rules in Afghanistan"Bloomberg View, January 12, 2016.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Air Power and Afghanistan (and Iraq . . and . . Syria)

A-10 - Photo by USAF
Pub - Airpower in Afghanistan. Dag Henriksen has penned a report about what worked and what did not work during NATO air operations in Afghanistan. He has compiled the perspectives of nine general officers who served in top airpower leadership positions in Afghanistan during the 2005-2010 time frame. Included are recommendations on how joint combined forces can work together in a counterinsurgency or counterterrorism environment. Read Airpower in Afghanistan 2005-2010: The Air Commanders' Perspectives, 2014, 340 pages, Air University Press.

Limits of Air Power. The United States has the best Air Force in the world. But there are limits to its effectiveness in some types of conflicts. Recent disclosures by the State Department and the military say that over 20,000 ISIS militants have been killed with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. At the beginning of 2015 there were about 30,000 ISIS fighters; at the end of 2015 there are about 30,000 ISIS fighters. Hmmm. Either our 'body count' is wrong or the Islamic State has one heck of a recruiting program! Read more in "Kill-Em-All with Airstrikes Is Not Working" by Micah Zenko, Best Defense, January 7, 2016.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

NATO Helicopter Crashes in Kabul

A British helicopter crashed on Sunday, October 11th causing the death of two RAF personnel, two U.S. military, and one French contractor. It is reported that five others were injured in the crash of the UK Puma Mk 2 helicopter. All ten are reported to be Coalition personnel. Some reports indicate that the helicopter hit the cable anchoring an observation and surveillance balloon. Read more in a casualty report by Resolute Support, October 12, 2015. The two U.S. airmen were identified in this news release by DoD on October 13, 2015. Resolute Support HQs held a memorial service at RS HQs - a video is posted at the following link.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Airstrike Hits MSF Hospital in Kunduz (Apparently)

The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz was apparently bombed by the U.S. Air Force on Friday causing extensive damage to the hospital, killing medical staff and patients, and setting back the Information Operations campaign of Resolute Support. The U.S. has confirmed that it carried out airstrike(s) in the vicinity of the hospital and that collateral damage may have occurred. The MSF staff says the bombing attack occurred with "devastating precision". MSF also states that they provided the geographic coordinates of their hospital to NATO and U.S. personnel on September 29th - days before the deadly bombing attack. An investigation is currently ongoing. The death toll appears to be in the teens - probably around 19 dead with many more wounded. After the attack some of the more critically injured were transported to a hospital in Puli Khumri - a two hour drive away. Read more about the attack in a press report by MSF. The U.S. Secretary of Defense issued a statement on Saturday, October 3rd.

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).

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?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Afghan Air Force - Still Not Big Enough

General Karimi, Afghan Army Chief of Staff, says that the ANSF needs more air support - Currently there are only four Mi-35 Attack Helicopters operating (flying) in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) - two for the northern regions and two for the southern regions. The AAF recently received six MD-530 helicopters armed with weaponry but they are still in the fielding phase - not yet committed to the fight. In addition some Mi-17s, a transport helicopter not really suited to ground attack, are armed with machine guns. The fielding of the twenty A-29 Super Tucanos is still many months away. So for fire support the ANA must depend on their D-30 122mm Howitzers and the limited air support that Resolute Support headquarters can provide. One aspect of the current fighting is that the Taliban can now mass for large-scale attacks against small outposts and combat bases. In previous fighting seasons these large formations of 200 plus insurgent fighters would have been pounded by Coalition air strikes. Not so much now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Contract Airlift for Afghanistan

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded contracts for about $40 million for the continuing of contract rotary-wing support in Afghanistan. Two firms - Columbia Helicopters and AAR Airlift Group have been awarded the contracts. They will move passengers and cargo until the end of April 2015. Read more in "US renews contractor airlift support in Afghanistan to end of April 2015", IHS Jane's 360, January 1, 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Video - A-10 in Action

The U.S. Air Force, proving once again that it disdains the close air support mission so vital to the U.S. Army, is trying to retire about 300 A-10 Warthogs. The USAF maintains that the new F-35 stealth fighter is an adequate ground support despite the fact that it carries a reduced payload, has a low loiter time (compared to the A-10), flies too fast, and is years away from service as a close air support aircraft. Read more in "Watch the A-10 Movie the U.S. Air Force Doesn't Want You to See", War is Boring, December 4, 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

RAF Tornados Complete Mission in Afghanistan

The Royal Air Force has completed their final mission with the Tornado GR4 all-weather attack aircraft in Afghanistan. The Tornados took over the air support mission from the RAF Harriers in June 2009. The aircraft provided close air support and reconnaissance to ground troops.  Read more in "RAF Tornados complete Afghan combat mission",, November 12, 2014. (photo by MSgt William Greer, CENTCOM)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

AH-64 Apaches Support Coalition and ANSF

The AH-64 Apache helicopters of the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade continue their operational tempo to support friendly forces on the ground. Behind the scenes are the maintainers that keep the Apaches at the tip of the spear. The maintainers work at Forward Operating Base Fenty (near Jalalabad). Learn more about their job in "Maintainers keep Apaches at the tip of the spear", DVIDS, November 3, 2014.

Monday, November 3, 2014

303 EFS Departs Bagram Airfield (A-10s)

The 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt pilots have completed their deployment in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan they conducted close air support missions throughout the country. They will return to the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Friday, October 31, 2014

NATO Promises Afghans Air Support After 2014

The A-29 Tucano was supposed to be in the AAF by
now but Congressional meddling held up the program.
The international military coalition says it will continue to provide air support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) after the last combat troops leave Afghanistan in December 2014. According to General Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, there was a recent agreement between Afghanistan and NATO on continued aviation support until the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has the sufficient capacity - likely to occur at the end of 2016. Some observers might make note that this is a bit of a reversal by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). During the past two years (2013 and 2014) ISAF's stand was that the Afghan security forces need to be able to conduct operations without air support (close air support, movement of equipment and personnel, and MEDEVAC) and that the Afghan Air Force would be able to support the ANSF by itself after ISAF departs (December 2014). A few factors have probably altered that stance. The Afghan Air Force is taking a lot longer to stand up. The AAF has been plagued by misuse drug running, corruption and illiteracy, and mismanagement by the United States Air Force. One of the few bright spots has been the Special Mission Wing (SMW). Despite the promise of air support many feel that it is a hollow promise; the lack of a robust ISAF air support presence will limit ISAF's ability to provide the air support needed by the ANSF. (See "NATO Defense Spending Cutbacks May Hurt Afghanistan As Air Support Dwindles", International Business Times, October 29, 2014).

Transport Capability of AAF. The Mi-17 helicopter program is just now coming up to the 87 ship strength but the crews (flying and maintenance) are still not able to conduct all-weather and night-flying operations (only a few can, like the SMW) and maintain the aircraft. In addition, the U.S. Congress is hot about the use of Russian helicopters in the AAF. The Afghans are still not able to maintain their own helicopters to a sufficient degree and will need help in the future years in this area. The C-27A program of 20 light transport aircraft has been an extreme embarrassment to the U.S. Air Force - 16 of the 20 were recently scrapped for 6 cents a pound; four are still at an airbase in Germany yet to deploy to Afghanistan. Plans to replace the 20 C-27As with four C-130s have fallen into question - the first two delivered had a utilization rate of 48% because of the lack of Afghan crews. The third was just delivered and delivery of the fourth C-130 is now on hold.

Close Air Support. The ability of the AAF to support the ANSF is very limited. There are about 11 Mi-35 Attack Helicopters of which only a few can fly; and those crews are not very experienced. The Mi-35s are to be replaced by the A-29 Tucano but that deployment was stalled for two years by Congressional members who favored a U.S. built aircraft from a competing company. The first Tucano arrived at Moody Air Force Base in September 2014 to start the initial training. Recent news reports indicate that the U.S. is going to "weaponize" the MD 530F helicopters currently in the AAF; good news but a little late.

2014 Fighting Season. In addition, the ANSF had its worst fighting season ever in terms of numbers of casualties and the Taliban threatened some districts with fighter formations in the hundreds. ISAF was forced to assist the Afghans during August and September 2014 with a significant number of air sorties; a large increase over support provided over the past two years. So . . . we now see a reversal on the decreased use of air support which is the right thing to do; we should never had withheld the air support in 2013 and 2014. We do want the Afghans to win; don't we?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Improving Tactical Intelligence

A former Army intelligence captain who was assigned to an aviation intelligence section and stationed in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in 2009 is now attending the System Design and Management program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is working on a thesis that will make systems better for intelligence collection and analysis. Read more in Designing Intelligence, MIT News, October 8, 2014.

Friday, October 10, 2014

U.S. Airstrikes Increase in Afghanistan

The air war in Afghanistan has been heating up. More airstrikes were conducted during the month of August than in any single month in the past two years. There are probably many reasons for this. ISAF is closing a lot of bases so the increase in convoys conducting retrograde of personnel and equipment required additional air support. July and August are typically the most active for the Taliban (something about fighting in hot weather) so the number of airstrikes to support ISAF and Afghan security forces would naturally be high. In addition, the Taliban (far from being defeated on the battlefield) were taking it to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) this year. 2014 saw a 30% increase in casualties for the ANSF. There were 436 weapon releases for August 2014 compared to an average of 150 in the previous seven months. Read more in "US intensifies Afghan airstrikes as drawdown nears", The Boston Globe, October 8, 2014.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Afghan MD 530F Aircraft Contract

Photo by TSgt Quinton Russ USAF

It looks like the Afghan Air Force will be getting a bit of an upgrade. A contract was recently awarded to MD Helicopters, Inc. for $44 million for work on seventeen MD 530F helicopters. The MD 530F is used primarily for helicopter pilot instruction at Shindand Air Field in western Afghanistan. However, it appears some weapons systems will be put on the aircraft as well. That makes sense since the Afghans have very little close air support capability. Their Mi-35s (all six of them of which 1-3 are usually down for maintenance) are reaching the end of their service life and the Super Tucanos won't be up and running until sometime in 2016.

Read the contract specifications for the MD 530F in the text below taken from
"MD Helicopters, Inc., Mesa, Arizona was awarded a not to exceed $44,200,000 firm-fixed-price, foreign military sales (Afghanistan) undefinitized contract action for the integration, testing, procurement, modification and installation of a weapon system onto the seventeen MD 530F aircraft. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona with an estimated completion date of Sept. 29, 2015. One bid was solicited with one received. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $21,658,000 are being obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-14-C-0081)."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Logar Province in Transition

The United States and Coalition partners are quickly reducing their footprint. In most all provinces there is no Coalition presence. In a few provinces we now have only a few scattered SFAATs, SOF teams, and some support troops. One of these provinces is Logar. FOB Shank (Logar province) used to have more than 4,000 Coalition troops and now it is greatly reduced in size, scope and mission. The ability to provide enablers to the ANSF is vastly reduced. At one time ISAF could provide QRF, MEDEVACs, fires, aerial ISRintelligence, DOMEX, logistical support, and close air support. Now it provides very little.

A WaPo correspondent is currently making his way through the Regional Command East (RC East) area and one of his stops included Logar province. In a recent article he provides us some atmospherics. See "In Afghanistan's Logar province, a plea for air support", The Washington Post, September 19, 2014. Two topics stand out for me in this article - generators and air support.

Generator at OCC-P Pul-e-Alam
Some things never seem to change - as in the request for generator maintenance support and training mentioned in the news article. For years the Coalition has provided the ANSF with generators to run their bases, district centers, and provincial offices. Although a noble cause (providing generators) it also produced a number of problems. There was no fuel allocated to run the generators - when fuel was allocated it was stolen prior to arriving at the generator location or shortly after arrival (see SIGAR Audit 1-4). Generators would often break down because the Afghans did not conduct daily and weekly maintenance - even after receiving maintenance training (although many did not get the training). Most of the generators were too big for the sites - a large generator consumed too much fuel and often suffered breakdowns due to insufficient loads. Many generators were simply stolen. Some generators were installed but never run because of lack of fuel. The presence of generators prompted requests for air conditioners, computers, and other electrical appliances. For me, whenever I see a generator I will think of Afghanistan as "The Graveyard of Generators".

The use of close air support was key to the success and survival of American troops in Afghanistan. Air support could mean the difference between winning an engagement against the Taliban or suffering casualties. The Afghans began to rely on U.S. air support as well. When we started holding back enablers in 2013 (to include close air support) there was wide-spread dissatisfaction among the ANSF. Many advisors reported that ANA operations would come to a screeching halt when they found they could not get air support from the United States. So when the writer mentions the request of air support; that too, tells me not much has changed. Of course, the Afghan making the request has a valid point. He knows the U.S. is leaving but would prefer the air support continue for at least another month - which would coincide with the end of the traditional fighting season. Surely this is a reasonable request.

So . . . things are changing - ISAF is withdrawing; but . . . some things never change.