11 Years and $8 Billion Later, US-built Afghan Air Force Still Struggling

Afghanistan will rely on US support for years to maintain force

In recent months, some of the airstrikes in Afghanistan have been credited to the Afghan Air Force. This air force is operational, to some extent, though calling it functional would be an exaggeration.

Officials say that 11 years after the US started this process, and about $8 billion of US funding in, the Afghan Air Force is still struggling. Only about one in five airstrikes in Afghanistan involves an Afghan plane, and officials say that civilian casualties in Afghan strikes are even worse than the shoddy track record of the US planes.

The plans are to continue growing the air force, but US officials concede there is no timetable that’s going to get them to the point where the Afghans can control the skies of their country by themselves, with the expectation of them relying heavily on US air support for years, perhaps decades to come.

And relying on American money, of course. As with the rest of the Afghan military, the US decisions made on force size for the air force are being made irrespective of Afghanistan’s ability to maintain or pay for them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.