44 Afghan Soldiers Missing From Military Training in the U.S.
Many Afghan troops come to the U.S. to receive military training. But according to the Pentagon, 44 Afghan soldiers have disappeared in less than two years–probably in attempts to create new lives in America. Considering that approximately 2,200 individual soldiers have received military training here since 2007, 44 is not a high number. But according to officials the frequency with which troops go missing from Afghanistan is “concerning” and unusual compared to other nations.
In an effort to remove itself from the conflict in Afghanistan, the U.S. has spent over $60 billion on military training for Afghan troops since 2002. This news about soldier students who go AWOL—absent without leave–brings questions about the security and procedures used during trainings. Apparently eight soldiers have just left military bases without authorization since September. Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said to Reuters:
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.
— Josh Smith (@joshjonsmith) October 6, 2016
This could fuel criticism against the Obama administration and play into Donald Trump’s hands, as he has criticized the White House for not being strict enough with Muslim immigrants that come to America. But Stump said that all foreign soldiers who come here for training are properly examined beforehand to make sure they are not sympathetic to any militant or terrorist groups or have conducted any crimes against human rights.
Not all of the missing students were attending training at a military base, as some were students in intelligence-gathering or other tasks. If anyone is absent from their training for over 24 hours they are considered AWOL. Though it is not known how many of the students authorities have located, the Pentagon did confirm that one man was detained when trying to cross the border from the U.S. to Canada.
Some experts that Reuters talked to said one reason for this problem could be that many foreign soldiers do not get paid on time. They might also feel hopeless when thinking about the economic state of their home country, and or feel that they receive insufficient training. That sounds like enough to discourage most people, and sheds some light on the “missing” soldiers.