Deeper Blue in Afghanistan

The Air Force’s presence inside Afghanistan will grow by more than 30 percent in coming months as the US military surges forces there, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said during a visit to Southwest Asia last week. From a current force of 5,000 inside that country, the Air Force is “probably going to grow to about 6,600 or so,” Schwartz told airmen of the 586th Air Expeditionary Group April 7 at an air base in the region. “It will be the full breadth of capabilities from intelligence to defenders to combat support on installations to the aviation missions of all kinds and space as well,” he explained. This buildup will occur as the manpower requirements in Iraq subside and US forces there drawdown to 50,000 or below by the summer of 2010 as outlined by the Obama Administration. Schwartz said the Air Force will play a significant role in that drawdown by running “the ports that enable our airplanes to deliver our precious people from the joint team and their equipment to their home stations,” he said. (386th AEW report by SSgt. Thomas J. Doscher)