Where did they go?
That’s the big question and mystery surrounding 44 members of the Afghanistan military who’ve been training on U.S. soil, at U.S. military bases, but who’ve now gone missing.
As Fox News puts it:
“Nearly four dozen Afghan troops training in the U.S. have reportedly vanished in less than two years.”
Since September alone, eight Afghan troops have gone missing, Reuters reported.
The disturbing news from the Pentagon is that the soldiers – in all, 44 of them – are prsumed to have disappeared into America’s job market to live and work as illegal citizens. But presumed is the key word; in other words, nobody really knows.
“A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the frequency of Afghan troops disappearing from military training was truly concerning and ‘out of the ordinary.’ Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said that eight Afghan troops have left bases without permission.
“‘The Defense Department is assessing ways to strengthen eligibility criteria for training in ways that will reduce the likelihood of an individual Afghan willingly absconding from training in the U.S. and going AWOL,’ Stump said.”
The Afghans training on U.S. bases are supposedly vetted to make sure their pasts don’t include ties to terrorism or to radicalize groups in the Middle East. And Stump also said no evidence exists to indicate the disappeared troops now pose a threat to America.
But again: Who can say for sure?
It’s like a mad game of “Where’s Waldo,” only with national security as the stake.
As Reuters went on:
“Although the number of disappearances is relatively small – some 2,200 Afghan troops have received military training in the United States since 2007 – the incidents raise questions about security and screening procedures for the programs.
“They are also potentially embarrassing for U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, which has spent billions of dollars training Afghan troops as Washington seeks to extricate itself from the costly, 15-year-old war. The disclosure could fuel criticism by supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has accused the Obama administration of failing to properly vet immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and has pledged a much tougher stance if he wins.”
Stump also told Reuters the Department of Defense is analyzing ways to strengthen the program’s elegibility and vetting requirements, in order to lessen the chances of participants going AWOL in the future.
From Reuters, once again:
“The Afghan army has occasionally been infiltrated by Taliban militants who have carried out attacks on Afghan and U.S. troops, but such incidents have become less frequent due to tougher security measures.”