This is turning more into a ‘drop and run’…..
Leaving is always harder than starting anything…
There are “a lot of problems” in the Afghan Air Force and it needs “American support,” one pilot said bluntly shortly before he flew to retrieve Afghan troops in a besieged district. His helicopter was hit with several bullets and narrowly missed a rocket-propelled grenade.
The Pentagon’s command to train, advise and assist the Afghan Air Force, known as TAAC-Air, concluded in January that no Afghan aircraft could be sustained as combat effective for more than a few months in the absence of contractor support.
“I am concerned about the ability of the Afghan military to hold on after we leave, the ability of the Afghan Air Force to fly, in particular, after we remove the support for those aircraft,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, which oversees Afghanistan, told a Senate committee in Washington in April.
The issue is at the center of tortuous discussions among officials in the Biden administration, who are trying to devise workarounds for the myriad problems associated with President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American troops — and the contractors who support them — from Afghanistan. The withdrawal is expected to be complete by early to mid-July.
Officials at the Pentagon say that one possible solution would be to transfer contracts with private companies now paid for by the United States to the Afghan government. Under such an arrangement, American and other foreign contractors would stay in Afghanistan, but they would be paid by Afghan officials in overseas aid, mainly from the United States….
How to deal with the contractors is just one of a number of pressing problems created by the rapid withdrawal of American troops. The C.I.A. is struggling to ensure that it can gather intelligence about potential threats from Afghanistan once the U.S. military presence ends.
The Pentagon is still weighing how it will strike terrorist groups like Al Qaeda from afar once it no longer has troops or warplanes in Afghanistan. And the administration has yet to strike deals to position troops in any nearby nations for counterterrorism operations.
The Afghan government has always relied heavily on foreign contractors and trainers. As of this spring, there were over 18,000 Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan, including 6,000 Americans, 5,000 Afghans and 7,000 from other countries, 40 percent of whom are responsible for logistics, maintenance or training tasks, according to John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The Afghan security forces rely on these contractors to maintain their equipment, manage supply chains and train their military and police to operate the advanced equipment that the United States has bought for them….