Small Wars Journal

Assassins Threaten Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Efforts to Keep Afghan Airmen Flying

Assassins Threaten Multibillion-Dollar U.S. Efforts to Keep Afghan Airmen Flying by J.P. Lawrence - Stars & Stripes

The two highly trained Afghan airmen were dead, killed by an assassin who waited for them on their way to work.

Mahboobulhaq Safi, 30 — once Afghanistan’s only C-130 flight engineer — was shot six times Aug. 27, along with Col. Mohammed Shah, 45, one of the country’s few C-130 pilots.

Their families are left asking how Western military forces can justify investing so much money in training Afghan airmen, while not doing more to protect them.

“The government has done nothing for his safety,” said Shah’s brother, Spin Gul, 59, a retired Afghan National Army colonel. “The government should have realized the importance of their job and should have taken measures to secure their employees.”

Strengthening Afghanistan’s airpower is crucial in helping its military fight the Taliban and other militants. The U.S., for example is planning a $11.4 billion modernization campaign to increase Afghan airmen by 20 percent and triple the number of Afghan aircraft by 2023, according to a Defense Department report in June.

Because of their importance in the war effort, Afghan pilots are targeted for assassination and often struggle to keep themselves and their families safe. Threats bring the war from the skies, where Kabul and the West have technological superiority, to the ground, where the Taliban and other militants use guerrilla tactics like ambush and murder…

Read on.