Afghan Light Attack Program Under the Microscope

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko said on Tuesday his office has opened an inquiry into the Air Force-managed A-29 Light Air Support program for the Afghan air force. Speaking with reporters in Washington, D.C., he said his office, the SIGAR, has concerns on two fronts: personnel security and affordability. It seeks information about the planned purchase of the 20 A-29s for the AAF, to see if they meet the AAF’s close air support needs, as advertised. SIGAR is also concerned about the security aspect of bringing Afghans to Moody AFB, Ga., for A-29 pilot and maintainer training. “A few have disappeared [from the training program] over the last few months, and we wanted to be briefed,” said Sopko. He stressed that his office’s scrutiny of the LAS program and other aircraft procurements for the AAF has to do with the fact they are “big-ticket items” the US taxpayer is funding and they are also critical to the combat capability and long-term viability of the Afghan security forces.