A new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has revealed that many Afghan soldiers brought to the United States to train are missing and unaccounted for which poses serious threats to our national security:
We found that nearly half of all foreign military trainees that went AWOL while training in the United States since 2005 were from Afghanistan (152 of 320). Of the 152 AWOL Afghan trainees, 83 either fled the United States after going AWOL or remain unaccounted for. We also found that these instances of AWOL may have negative consequences, both for Afghanistan and the United States. For example, we found that the increasing instances of AWOL since 2015 may have had a negative impact on operational readiness of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) units and the morale of fellow trainees and home units, and posed security risks to the United States.
The report states that “Afghan trainees go AWOL while in the United States at a far higher rate than do trainees from any other country” and that’s because in-person interviews are not done on them, as is the case with aliens coming legally from other countries, and they can essentially sneak away and live illegally in America. However, the State Department has already rejected the conclusions put forth in the report that would allow ICE agents to locate these individuals, thus saving taxpayer dollars.
“Although we are not aware of any acts of terrorism or similarly serious acts involving Afghan trainees who have gone AWOL, such cases are considered by the CTCEU [ICE’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit] to be high risk because they involve militarily trained individuals of a fighting age who have demonstrated a ‘flight risk,’ and have little or no risk of arrest and detention for absconding from training,” the report warns. “According to DSCA data, law enforcement arrested, or removed only 27 of the 152 (approximately 18 percent) AWOL Afghan trainees since 2005. The remainder successfully fled the United States after going AWOL, obtained legal status, remain unaccounted for, or are no longer AWOL.”
The breakdown is this: 152 trainees have gone AWOL; 70 fled the US; 39 have legal status in the US; 3 returned to duty; 27 were arrested and slated for deportation; and 13 are unaccounted for. The report states that four soldiers left training in Washington D.C., three went AWOL at Quantico, one from Arlington, but the majority disappeared from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The report concludes:
Since 2001, the U.S. government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars as part of its continuing effort to train the ANDSF. One part of this effort has been the attempt to train certain ANDSF personnel in the United States, based on the determination that comparable training could not be provided elsewhere, such as Afghanistan. However, since 2005, far more Afghan trainees have gone AWOL in the United States than trainees from any other nation, and the likelihood of Afghan trainees to go AWOL has increased in recent years as the security situation in Afghanistan has continued to deteriorate. The issue of Afghan trainees going AWOL continues to be a problem. According to State representatives, as recently as August 2017 four AWOL Afghan trainees were caught by Customs and Border Protection in the state of Washington. According to Afghan trainees we interviewed who had gone AWOL, personal/family safety and perceived job insecurity were the primary motivating factors for going AWOL. The tendency of Afghan trainees in the United States to go AWOL may hinder the operational readiness of their home units, negatively impact the morale of fellow trainees and home units, and pose security risks to the United States.
Despicte this evidence, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security don’t believe a real security threat exists and won’t make a move on the report’s suggested solutions while unanimously declaring national security is the government’s “top priority.”
Read the full report here.
H/T Washington Times