Rebuilding an national military air force capability from the ground up might not seem a big deal. Get some air platforms, send a bunch of guys through training to operate said platforms and voila! Not so fast, Hamid Karzai! The "rebirth" of the Afghan Air Force, at one time a fairly formidable force in the region with an inventory of Soviet-provided aircraft, is on its way, however.The challenge of bringing back a competent air capability is daunting, much less having it engage in combat operations with any level of success. The underlying support infrastructure is one of the most important elements of this challenge - logistics, spare parts, maintenance, competent and trained personnel - just to mention a few. Add in the tactical challenge of warfare against the resurgent Taliban is difficult under the best of circumstances and you have an impressive series of hurdles to jump over.The will is obviously there, however, and with the likely plus-up of 3,200 US Marines this spring the region's spear will get a slightly pointier tip. It may be nothing but baby steps, but that is how you get a solid organic military capability rebuilt from the ground up.
New Aircraft, Home for Afghan Air ForceBy JASON STRAZIUSOKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Calling it the "birth of our air force," Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a new $22 million U.S.-funded military hangar on Thursday to house a fleet that is expected to triple in the next three years.Standing in the cavernous hangar opposite Kabul's international airport, Karzai thanked the U.S. for helping to buy six refurbished Mi-17 transport helicopters and six refurbished Mi-35 helicopter gunships from the Czech Republic, as well as four An-32 transport planes from Ukraine.The newly acquired aircraft will help transport Afghan troops who are taking on an increasing role in the battle against the Taliban on missions around the country.The new aircraft and upgraded flight facilities are part of a $183 million U.S.-funded program to bolster the Afghan air force.Afghanistan once had a strong air force that included hundreds of helicopters and Soviet-built MiG-21 and Su-22 warplanes, but that fleet was devastated by two decades of war."Today is again the birth of our air force," Karzai told a crowd of U.S. and Afghan military personnel. "We should strengthen this air force because it's very necessary for the Afghan government to have it."Read the whole article here.Pinch Paisley