Image via WikipediaI don't know if you've seen this news bit. San Antonio News reported the other day that seventeen Afghan military officers and enlistees have gone AWOL from a Lackland AFB language school over the past 18 months. Excerpt below:
The troops, enrolled in the Defense Language Institute English Language Center, were among 21 foreign military service personnel to go absent without leave since 2009, with one — an Iraqi — reappearing in Houston, where he sought political asylum.
Gary Emery, chief spokesman for the 37th Training Wing at Lackland, said he didn't know. He said 16 Afghans went AWOL in 2009 and one vanished this year.
Some likely had finished their Lackland courses and were on their way to training elsewhere when they disappeared, Emery said.
Disappearances like the ones at the DLI haven't been uncommon. But Emery noted that around 3,400 international students attended the Lackland school last year, including 228 from Afghanistan. Of those, the 16 Afghans went AWOL along with the Iraqi and one from Djibouti. Two from Tunisia have gone missing this year along with another from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa.
Asked why the Air Force hadn't revealed that Afghan troops had gone AWOL, Emery said the disappearances occurred gradually. “I don't know if I consider that particularly newsworthy,” he said, adding, “it hasn't been all at once.”
Continue reading Afghans at language school go AWOL. The names of the Afghan nationals who went AWOL are listed here.
FoxNews also reported that the Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, "Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.]," written by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas and obtained by FoxNews.com.
The Be-On-the-Lookout (BOLO) bulletin was distributed to local and federal law enforcement officials on Wednesday night.
On June 18, FoxNews has a follow up report saying that 10 of 17 Afghan military deserters who walked away from a training program on a U.S. Air Force base in Texas remain at large, but that seven of the men have been accounted for. Excerpt:
The 17 deserters went AWOL from Lackland Air Force Base, where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, according to a "Be-on-the-Lookout" (BOLO) bulletin issued on Wednesday.
Sources said that as of November 2009, one of the deserters was in Canada, one is now a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., one has left the country and another four are in federal custody and in removal proceedings. The other 10 remain unaccounted for.
Never mind that the "disappearances occurred gradually" but how can we bring in military folks like this for training and then allow them to simply disappear? They must receive pay and allowances for undergoing such trainings. Who keep tabs on them and their allowances? And when their training concludes, aren't they supposed to hand back their security badges?
Even with a BOLO issued, officials seem to be understating the issue. “I don't know if I consider that particularly newsworthy,” the spokesman said regarding the staggered disappearance of the Afghan trainees. The fact that they disappeared and cannot not be located is not newsworthy? Holy mother of goat! And if they started disappearing in 2009, how come we're just hearing about this now? It is, of course, possible that these guys just do not want to return to a war zone but that they are unaccounted for is a still a gap in the national security blanket. Sure they are friendlies, and have been vetted, but what if .... if, you know ...
The IFs are enough to make you stay awake nights, right? Except that NCIS is on it. And of course, we all know that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs always get the job done.
What do you mean that's not real life?