The Afghanistan Airforce in Cahoots with Opium Drug Lords
Sigh. Yet another story from Afghanistan that simply shows how America wasted billions and lives on this hopeless situation. For those not around in 1973-75 period, a very similar situation was happening in South Vietnam, where corruption and drugs simply were rampant.
The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) has a mostly Russian made force comprising of a total of 86 planes: 16 C-27 cargo, 41 Mi-17 transport helicopters, 11 made Mi-35 gunships. There are plans for the US to provide a dozen or so propeller ground attack aircraft. If you ever where opium came from, odds are it is from Afghanistan. It is Northern Afghanistan that it starts and then the drug is transported into Russia, Europe and finally into America. However, it is South Afghanistan that is grown in the provinces of Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, well, others too, but you get the picture. America tried in vain to get the farmers to plant wheat and other foods, in lieu, of opium fields. The American taxpayer actually paid for the drugs via the US Army, which paid the farmers. The US destroyed the plants. However, to the farmers, it was never enough.
Now, they have returned to growing the plants that create opium providing the 90% of the world. Meanwhile, the US has spent $20 billion in training the AAF.
It has been discovered that greed is insurmountable. What have the AAF been doing with their helicopters? Do you, as US taxpayer, really want to know? The AAF has been using them to transport their narcotics from the south to north and selling weapons around the country. These helicopters under the cover of training, transport both from point A to B. It was a ring of high ranking Afghan officers and government officials, or at best, looked the other way, while illicit cargoes were hauled around for money. Many of the officials involved are from North Afghanistan and fought the Taliban years ago and are now officers and officials.
Most them believe that once America leaves in 2014, civil war will happen as Afghanistan crumbles because few believe in the government. So, they are moving drugs using the helicopters (certainly way faster!) and selling them to their prospective tribes. They, in turn, resell and use the money to buy arms or buy arms from the AAF. There is evidence to some ties to international drug networks.
US officers noticed that many of the AAF helicopter pilots did not file a flight plan and would disappear at night. Cargo planes also followed the same pattern. Eventually, it was rampant, so the US took control of the aircraft and fuel until the AAF filed flight plans and listed their cargo. This drug running activity happened only at night at a specific location where the US had little supervision over.
Old habits and customs always return. Afghanistan produces 6000 tons of the stuff.