In less than two years, 44 Afghan troops visiting the United States for the purpose of military training have gone missing. The disappearance of the soldiers is presumed to be linked to efforts for the foreigners to live and work illegally in America, as officials of the Pentagon state.
In reference to the 2, 200 Afghan troops who have received military training in the United States since 2007, the number that has gone missing is quite small, yet the reality raises questions about security and the screening process when admitting the soldiers to the program within the U.S.
As Reuters points out, it is also likely embarrassing for the current administration under Barack Obama, which has spent billions on withdrawing from the 15-year-old war that has been quite costly in every sense of the word. These latest statistics will likely fuel more criticism by Republican supporters and those behind presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has pointed the finger at the Obama administration for failing to properly screen immigrants coming from countries that have a Muslim majority. Trump vows to be much tougher on this issue should he defeat Hillary Clinton in the election.
— AlgoPolitics (@AlgoPolitic) September 7, 2016
Within the last month alone, eight Afghan troops left their military bases in the United States without any authorization, as relayed by Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump, and he says that since January of 2015, 44 men have gone missing, which is a number that had not previously been disclosed. A U.S. defense official noted that while it is not unusual for foreign troops training in the U.S. to run away, the number of Afghan troops that have gone missing is of great concern and “out of the ordinary.”
Stump spoke with the publication in regard to the steps being taken to ensure that this issue is rectified.
“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 (absent without leave).”
The spokesman for the Pentagon also shared that the U.S. training program is vetted to be sure that participants have not had any involvement in human rights violations, and they are in no way connected to militant groups, prior to being accepted into the program. The defense representative also relayed that there has been no evidence that any of the individuals who have absconded from the program have committed any crimes or been a threat to the United States.
In a number of instances, the Afghan army has been compromised by Taliban militants, thereby carrying out attacks on the Afghan and U.S. troops. However, these incidents have become less of a concern due to strict security that is in place.
Reuters described the plan that has been proposed by Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump should he be elected.
“Trump, whose other signature immigration plan is to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims seeking to enter the country, and has said that law enforcement officers should engage in more racial profiling to curb the threat of attacks on American soil.”
There has been over $60 billion allocated since 2002 for the training and equipping of Afghan troops, yet security is still a concern, and the Taliban now controls more territory in Afghanistan than they had even in 2001 when the United States first invaded.
Thousands flee fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in Afghan city https://t.co/HtAo3lWMyx????
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 6, 2016
Obama saw the need to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan following his initial plan to cut the U.S. forces in Afghanistan in half by year’s end. A decision likely made due to the control the Taliban now has over the war-torn nation.
[Featured Image by Chris Kleponis/Getty Images]