Small Wars Journal

The Afghan Air Force is Growing. So are Questions About its Actions in Combat.

The Afghan Air Force is Growing. So are Questions About its Actions in Combat. By Dan Lamothe – Washington Post

Three American-made helicopters swooped over a religious gathering, taking aim at the field below. The Afghan pilots unleashed volleys of rockets and machine-gun fire, killing scores of people.

The April 2 airstrikes in Kunduz province’s Dasht-e Archi district targeted Taliban leaders, Afghan officials said. But the incident was messier than that. While some Taliban were there, so were children, an investigation by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan found in May. At least 36 people were killed and 71 were wounded, the investigators said. And at least 30 of the dead were children.

The incident is emblematic of a troubling issue as the U.S. military’s years-long effort to train the Afghan air force begins to make headway.

In the last three years, the force has expanded from barely flying to launching scores of strike missions most months, according to statistics released by the U.S.-led military coalition. However, as operations have increased, so have instances of civilian casualties documented by human rights groups…

Read on.