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Pentagon ends training program for Afghan pilots after 40% go AWOL in US

A Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano A-29 experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner/Released)
May 03, 2019

The Pentagon has decided to end a training program in the U.S. for Afghan Air Force pilots after nearly half of them have gone AWOL in America.

According to a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report out this week, more than 40 percent of the pilots participating in a training program for the AC-208 Combat Caravan lightweight reconnaissance aircraft at Fort Worth Meacham Airport in Texas have disappeared and left the program, Stars and Stripes reported.

“Those students that did not go AWOL were pulled back to Afghanistan to complete their training: as a result, only one class graduated from the U.S.-based program,” according to the report.

Another program to train Afghan pilots in the U.S. on the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia will also end next year, and that program will resume in late 2020 in Afghanistan, no longer on U.S. soil.

Afghan pilots have gone AWOL on U.S. soil in the past.

Three Afghan service members went missing in 2014 from a program in Massachusetts, and two pilots disappeared from Moody Air Force Base in 2015, Stars and Stripes reported.

One of the service members had tried to escape to Canada.