Afghans Have Persistent Gap in CAS, Air Support Capability

Afghan security forces still have a “capability gap” in aviation and close air support capabilities, which will require them to receive continued US assistance over the next few years, Army Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, deputy chief of staff for communications for NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, said at a Pentagon briefing Aug. 13. While Afghan forces have held their own in battles this year, they have been much less effective when they do not coordinate with air and fire support, Shoffner said. While US and coalition activity has decreased, Afghan forces have been actively engaged against Taliban and other insurgent forces, seeing 46 percent more casualties this year compared to last. This comes as the Afghan troops are carrying their biggest share of the war, with total coalition forces at 10 percent the amount that was there three years ago, Shoffner said. This year there have been more improved explosive device and high-profile attacks in Kabul, such as the Aug. 7 assault on Camp Integrity that killed Army MSgt. Andrew McKenna.