Remember when the Chinese Resident Chou Bia-Dung was asked if he trusted the Taliban? For those who may not have, I’ve posted the video at the end of this article.
Anyhow, Xiden made a point of citing how much he trusts the fighting ability of the Afghan National Army. Apparently, the Taliban didn’t get that message.
Reporters Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and Hamid Shalizi, all of the Reuters News Service are noting that the Taliban is currently active in their deliberate and well planned campaign of assassinating Afghan pilots;
Afghan Air Force Major Dastagir Zamaray had grown so fearful of Taliban assassinations of off-duty forces in Kabul that he decided to sell his home to move to a safer pocket of Afghanistan’s sprawling capital.
Instead of being greeted by a prospective buyer at his realtor’s office earlier this year, the 41-year-old pilot was confronted by a gunman who walked inside and, without a word, fatally shot the real estate agent in the mouth.
Zamaray reached for his sidearm but the gunman shot him in the head. The father of seven collapsed dead on his 14-year-old son, who had tagged along.
The boy was spared, but barely speaks anymore, his family says.
Zamaray “only went there because he personally knew the realtor and thought it was safe,” Samiullah Darman, his brother-in-law, told Reuters. “We didn’t know that he would never come back.”
At least seven Afghan pilots, including Zamaray, have been assassinated off base in recent months, according to two senior Afghan government officials.
This series of targeted killings, which haven’t been previously reported, illustrate what U.S. and Afghan officials believe is a deliberate Taliban effort to destroy one of Afghanistan’s most valuable military assets: its corps of U.S.- and NATO-trained military pilots.
In so doing, the Taliban — who have no air force — are looking to level the playing field as they press major ground offensives. The militants are quickly seizing territory once controlled by the U.S.-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, raising fears they could eventually try to topple Kabul.
One of the sharpest minds (and most common sense writers) in the world of geo-politics would be Jazz Shaw over at the conservative-leaning HotAir.com, As Shaw notes;
One of the sickest parts of this story is that the Taliban isn’t even denying it. One of their spokespeople (yes, the Taliban now has official media spokesmen) told Reuters that they had killed Zamaray and planned to take out as many pilots as possible. The reason they provided was that all of the pilots “do bombardment against their people.”
Clearly, while the Taliban are brutal Islamist terrorists, they’re not stupid.
With the Americans and their NATO partners almost entirely gone from the country and Bagram airbase abandoned, we can’t train any more pilots.
Trying to destroy the fighter jets and helicopters we gave to the Afghan Air Force is difficult and dangerous since they tend to be in heavily defended areas.
Shooting them down while in flight is also nearly impossible unless you have your own fighter jets or sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems. But if they can manage to kill off all of the pilots, there won’t be an air force anymore. You can’t simply recruit people to hop into a fighter jet and take off.
In the meantime, it’s being reported by the Military Times, that the US will be shipping to Afghanistan an additional “three A-29 Super Tucano [attack] aircraft, nearly 40 refurbished UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and overhauls of MI-17 helicopters…”
To wit, I must ask the rhetorical question; what good are new aircraft if your pilots are either dead or too scared to show their faces?