The first class of officers graduated on May 7 from the Afghan Air Force academy since the fall of the Taliban, according to a May 12 USAF release. The year-long curriculum, which included English language classes, aviation-related courses, and religious studies, encompassed more than 1,500 hours of course work. “Be strong and be prepared,” said AAF Commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak. “You are the future of the Afghan Air Force. The people of Afghanistan are proud of you. Do not forget that you are here to serve them.” There are 25 different career fields the officers may pursue, including C-208, Mi-17, and MD-530 operators, as well as maintenance, logistics, and administration. “Now that you have graduated, you have a large responsibility,” said Afghan Lt. Gen. Mohammad Dawran, deputy chief of staff in the Ministry of Defense, during the ceremony. “We need to serve this nation, the people, and help them. You work for a united Afghanistan—not your province, but your nations.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.