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Air superiority vital to fight militancy

Modern-day technology had significantly reshaped the wars, especially the counter-militancy operations, because insurgency is not different from guerilla warfare. Winning guerilla wars have always been a tough task due to evolving strategies and geo-politics. In such wars foreign actors jump in to secure their interests. Moreover, such wars are easy to fight due to quick maneuverability and sudden attacks capabilities. Therefore, this type of warfare takes decades to gain control over insecure parts. This was the case in Sri Lanka as well where Tamil Tigers were defeated after decades. The Afghan militant groups are not different from the Tamil Tigers. What makes them common is the quest for power employing an ideology to recruit people of particular mindset as well as welcome support rendered by forces that are hostile to the current government. Hence, the Afghan government should take Sri Lanka as an example to root out extremism and militancy. Availability of an adequate air power helped Colombo to pound out shelters and hit convoys of the rebels before reaching their target or while engaged in clashes with Sri Lankan troops. In a nutshell to counter quick maneuverability capability of the militants, a viable air force is imperative.

Unfortunately, the fledgling Afghan Air Force (AAF) has been ignored by the international community. The NATO member countries, particularly the United States, vowed to strengthen the AAF while providing light air support aircrafts A-29 and choppers. Being short of combat ready aircrafts the AAF had fitted 23mm machine guns and 57mm rockets to few Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters. After the security transition the Afghan security forces on their own to fight militants without having air support. This is the major cause behind heavy causalities suffered by Afghan troops. As per estimates, every week over 50 Afghan security personnel die in the line of duty. The reluctant NATO members have turned a blind eye to the sacrifices of Afghan forces in the war they waged and left unfinished. As many as 1,392 ANA troops were killed alone in 2013. The figures are indeed shocking.

Though, Afghan security forces are not letting any stone unturned to defeat the insurgents but still the pressure is mounting due to absence of sound air forces that could provide them close air support in the operations. No doubt, the ill-equipped air force is leaving bad impact on the overall struggle of the security forces. Therefore, if the international community is serious about bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan then it should provide fighter jets and other required weapons and equipment to the AAF.

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