Shaping the Afghan Transition: The Airpower Dimension

The Western powers are facing the end game in Afghanistan.  Whether what they do in the next few months is a transition or an exit remains up in the air.

If the Afghans as a nation are going to work together to shape a counter-insurgency and defense strategy, air power is a crucial lynchpin.

This is true for multiple reasons.

First, the geography of Afghanistan makes this an air-connected territory, not a road connected one.

Second, the conditions of operation are challenging and require robust and maintainable air systems to support Afghan forces.

Third, the US and NATO have demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that airpower is a fundamental element of security and defense “ground” operations.  The demonstration effect is palpable in Afghanistan.  Leaving the Afghans with little or no operational air capability would be a statement of neglect by the exiting NATO forces.

This report looks at how the Afghan Air Force can be augmented and strengthen as part of the transition; and how this transition is part of a broader US military strategic evolution as well.


"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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