It’s No Rag-Tag Operation

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan, said he was surprised to learn the Afghan air force was not a “rag-tag operation.” In the three months since he assumed his role as the top Air Force general in Afghanistan, Wilsbach told the Daily Report on July 20 that he has discovered the AAF actually is “a small and capable force [that is] improving all the time.” He acknowledged that “they have a long way to go,” but said they are beginning to “embrace the tenants of airpower that we’ve learned over many, many years of flying.” Just a year and a half ago, the AAF was grounded for safety and maintenance issues, noted Wilsbach. At the time, the Afghans didn’t “have anybody trained to be able to accomplish their missions,” he added. Today, however, they are flying daily sorties on their own. In the second quarter of 2013, Wilsbach said the AAF conducted 795 missions—an improvement of 35 percent over the first quarter. That included 460 medical evacuation missions—an improvement of 139 percent over the first quarter. In addition, Afghan-run and -organized cargo runs were up 52 percent and troop transport missions were up 51 percent.