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Before pullout from Afghanistan US watchdog warned Afghan air force would collapse

Chicago Sun Times – “Months before President Joe Biden announced the U.S.’s complete withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, Washington’s watchdog warned that the Afghan air force would collapse without critical American aid, training and maintenance, according to a newly declassified report. The report by John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, had been submitted to the Department of Defense in January 2021. Its release now underscores that American authorities had been alerted that Afghanistan’s air force didn’t have the capabilities to survive after a U.S. withdrawal. In particular, the report points to the U.S. government’s failure to train Afghan support staff, which left that country’s air force unable to maintain its aircraft without enlisting American contractors. U.S. air support to government forces was key in the 20-year-war against Taliban insurgents. Its removal was one factor that contributed to the Taliban’s sweeping victory as the Americans withdrew, as was the inability of the Afghan air force to fill the void. The inspector general’s office told The Associated Press it’s rare for SIGAR reports to be classified but that, when they are, a declassified version is issued by the Pentagon in under two months. The office said it didn’t know why it took the Defense Department more than a year before declassifying this report or why it did so now, five months after the Taliban took power…”

Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction UNCLASSIFED VERSION OF A PREVIOUSLY ISSUED CLASSIFIED REPORT. SIGAR 21-14-AR/Afghan Air Force Sustainability – Afghan Air Forces: DOD Has Taken Steps to Develop Afghan Aviation Capability but Continued U.S. Support is Needed to Sustain Forces, January 2022.

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