At the request of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), approximately 300 Marines will deploy to Helmand Province Afghanistan in Spring 2017 in support of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.
Task Force South West, made up of Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and led by Brig. Gen. Roger Turner, Jr., will train and advise key leaders within the Afghan National Army 215th Corps and the 505th Zone National Police.
In March, four A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft arrived for duty at Kabul Air Wing, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 20, 2017, where they will be used by the Afghan Air Force for close-air attack, air interdiction, escort and armed reconnaissance, Capt. Jason Smith, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing reported.
The latest arrivals, which traveled from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., bring the AAF A-29 inventory from eight to 12 aircraft in country.
There are still seven A-29s assigned to Moody AFB where they are used for training pilots.
“The four additional aircraft will allow us to increase the number of missions we are able to support nationwide,” said an Afghan A-29 pilot who can’t be identified for security reasons. “More targets can be attacked—more ground troops can be supported.”
Brig. Gen. David Hicks, Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said the A-29s were a “game changer” in the 2016 fighting season, and he has high expectations for the aircraft and crews in 2017.
“The AAF pilots are continually gaining proficiency in the A-29,” said Hicks. “They are capable of providing air attack anywhere in the country. In the past, the Afghan National Army relied on the Coalition for air support. Now, it’s their own countrymen overhead flying the missions.” Hicks said the additional A-29s give the AAF more options to forward deploy airpower throughout the country.
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Photo courtesy of US Air Force