From the 1920s Afghanistan maintained a small air arm that depended heavily upon outside assistance. Starting in 2005, the United States led an air advisory campaign to rebuild the Afghan Air Force (AAF). In 2007 a formal joint/combined entity, led by a U.S. Air Force brigadier general, began air advisor work with Afghan airmen.
Between 2007 and 2011, these efforts made modest progress in terms of infrastructures, personnel and aircraft accessions, and various training courses. But by 2010, advisors increasingly viewed AAF command and control (C2) as a problem area that required significant improvement if a professional air force was to be built. In the spring of 2011, major institutional changes to AAF C2 procedures were being introduced when nine U.S. air advisors were killed. The attack was the worst single-incident loss of U.S. Air Force personnel in a deployed location since 1996 and the worst insider-attack since 2001.
From the day of that tragic event, the cultural chasm between Afghanistan and the West became more apparent. This dilemma continues with no end in sight to an air advisory mission of uncertain long-term value.
About the Author
Forrest L. Marion is a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel and has a PhD in U.S. history from the University of Tennessee. He is an oral historian and staff historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He deployed as joint task force historian to the southern Philippines (2002) and as air advisor wing historian to Afghanistan (2009, 2011).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations x
1 Afghan Air Power. 1919-1989: A Pattern Emerges 7
2 Afghan Air Power. 1990-2005: Sustained, Splintered, and Stricken 29
3 2005-2010: "Building Air Power for Afghanistan" 47
4 January-April 2011: Cautious Optimism, Treachery, and Unanswered Questions 85
5 May 2011-July 2013: Recovery, New Aircraft, and Old Issues 122
6 August 2013-December 2014: An Accelerated Departure, Almost 158
7 2015: A Failing "Institutional" Air Advisor Mission? 196
Appendix 1 Report, Brig. Gen. David W. Allvin, USAF, to NATC-A ALL, "NATC-A Commander's Guidance, March 2011," released 3 April 2011 217
Appendix 2 E-mail, Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant, USAF, to [various 438AEW personnel],"C2 Update and RFI on C2 Shortfalls," 16 April 2011 221
Appendix 3 List of Air Advisor Operational Losses and Contractor Losses in Afghanistan, 2011-2015 223
Appendix 4 Air Advisor Memorial 224
Selected Bibliography 323