September 20, 2021

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Withdrawal of US troops | Afghanistan’s elected officials fear the status of their air force

(Washington) Afghanistan’s elected officials have expressed concern about the Afghan air force, saying the Taliban are expanding their control over the country, and called on the United States to finalize the process of providing military assistance to the country before withdrawing in August.


In virtual interviews this week with elected officials of the United States Congress, the Afghan delegation called on the United States to take immediate action to assist in the maintenance of Afghan aircraft and to supply additional ammunition to the country’s air force.

The White House said in a statement on Friday that US President Joe Biden had raised the issue during a telephone conversation with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who would end the longest war in U.S. history by completing the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of next month.

U.S. military support in Kabul depends on the adoption of the 2022 defense budget, which is currently being negotiated in Congress, the U.S. administration said.

Haji Ajmal Rahmani, a member of the Afghan parliament, told reporters that the security situation was “catastrophic”.

According to him, one-third of the 150 aircraft are unfit to fly, and the Afghan Air Force is leaving behind laser-guided weapons provided so far by the United States and NATO allies.

Laser-guided weapons are essential for conducting precise strikes, which reduces the risk of civilian casualties.

“What we are being told is that it will take time because you have to order them, it will take a long time to prepare them and send them to Afghanistan,” he added.

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“We’re talking about a year,” he continued, adding that it was “something that is really needed at this crucial time”.

Mir Haider Absali, chairman of the Security Council of the Afghan Parliament, said the planes were grounded due to lack of spare parts, sending foreign technicians and the Navy’s aging COVID-19 epidemic.

He said the United States had not yet provided the promised Black Hawks helicopters to the Afghan army.

The White House points out that the 2022 budget bill submitted to Congress provided $ 3.3 billion in military aid to Afghanistan.

Of that amount, 1 billion is designed to maintain Afghanistan’s air traffic, especially three Black Hawks helicopters that have already arrived in Afghanistan, Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said this week.

The report said $ 700 million had been set aside for the purchase of another billion ammunition, spare parts and kerosene and to pay the salaries of Afghan soldiers.

The United States has invested more than $ 8 billion to establish a virtually non-existent Afghan air force during the military intervention that began after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that it had recently launched airstrikes in Afghanistan in support of the Afghan military. ‘Will be completed by the end of August.