“We are ready for both war and peace. In four years we will spend $7 billion on the country’s air force.”
Irshad Salim — In a major sign of long-term support for war-torn Afghanistan, the United States and NATO alliance are moving to support the Afghan Air Force by investing billions of dollars in the nation’s nascent Air Force.
President Ashraf Ghani during a visit to Nangarhar province said that foreign forces in Afghanistan have increased their support to the Afghan security forces following president Donald Trump’s new war strategy on Afghanistan.
He made the remarks on Sunday during a visit to the eastern province close to Pakistani border, where he also said that government will spend $7 billion on the air force in the next four years.
“Their (NATO’s) support will increase more than this,” he said, adding that “We are ready for both war and peace. In four years we will spend $7 billion on the country’s air force.”
Gen. Phillip A. Stewart, commander of Train, Advise, Assist Command said in an interview with TOLOnews on Sunday that $7 billion will be spent on the Afghan Air Force over the next four years.
“We expect the Afghan Air Force to be fully professional, sustainable and capable and independent and that’s our whole goal here,” he said.
Under the new aid package, the number of aircraft owned by the AAF will be doubled in the next four years.
“It takes a lot of time to build an air force from scratch, the Afghan Air Force is actually doing it incredibly fast and doing it under combat conditions, I don’t think that’s ever being done before when you an air force from scratch and in combat conditions, I think the international community has pitched in in an incredible manner, we have fourteen different nations that are part of the train, advise and assist mission,” said Stewart.
He said that one of the problems is that the Afghan Air Force personnel are growing during a war time. However the development of these forces is encouraging.
The complexity in the geography of the war in Afghanistan has been testing the war capabilities of the ground forces as insurgents continue their irregular and guerrilla warfare tactics in different parts of the country, he added.
Meanwhile, a number of military experts have said that the Afghan government should also seek cooperation from foreign countries to boost the radar system of the country so that Afghan government can take control of its air space. India is said to be one of the contenders.
“We have a lot of shortages, we have a lot of weaknesses, we need to work on the issues, the system needs to work on it, we need a strong air force system to find the capability of controlling our air space,” said military expert Jabbar Qahraman.
According to some observers, America seeks to maintain a large-scale military presence in Afghanistan for decades to come (not dissimilar to our military presence in countries like Japan, South Korea, or Germany). The key difference here is that overseas military presences are only considered acceptable by the larger American citizenry as long as our deployed forces aren’t continuously blown apart by Improvised Explosive Devices. However, in order for that to happen, the country in which our forces are deployed needs a functioning government which is something Afghanistan will never have, wrote Newsweek.
On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed the deployment orders for additional American troops to Afghanistan, but said at the same time that he wanted to work with Pakistan to defeat terrorists.
The US defense chief also announced that American troops in Afghanistan will not only train Afghan national security forces but have also been authorized to engage the enemy.