Biden is betting on Afghanistan's air force. But their problems continue to grow.

In addition to pulling out all but a handful of troops from Afghanistan, the Pentagon has also flown thousands of contractors out of the country in recent weeks, leaving a skeleton force of several hundred behind to do everything the Afghans can't — including fixing their own airplanes and helicopters and handling logistics.

As the withdrawal continues, more of that wrench turning will be done by Afghan crews, with U.S. contractors looking over their shoulders via Zoom or coaching them over the phone, defense officials say...

More potential problems are continuing to stack up. In January, NATO’s Train Advise Assist Command - Air in Kabul told a Pentagon inspector general that without continued contractor support, none of the air force's airframes "can be sustained as combat effective for more than a few months."

The A-29 and AC-208 will be key components to any success the Afghan air force might have in hitting the Taliban from the air, but as with the rest of the service, the pilot and ground crew options are limited and unlikely to grow. The American program to train A-29 pilots in the U.S. wrapped up in November 2020, with only about 30 pilots trained between 2015 and 2020.

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