Russia participates in repair of helicopters purchased by US for Afghanistan

© AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

ZHUHAI, October 31. /TASS/. Russia is taking part in repair of helicopters purchased by the United States for the armed forces of Afghanistan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer for after-sales services of Russian Helicopters Igor Chechikov told TASS in an interview on Monday.

“Proactive operation of our helicopters purchased by the United States is underway in Afghanistan; several countries make their repair. Furthermore, you are aware that the US government lifted sanctions on cooperation with Rosoboronexport exactly in respect of after-sales maintenance of Russian helicopters. This is because there is a large fleet of our helicopters in Afghanistan and the US pilots are flying them in particular, Chechikov said.

“Repair of the said helicopters is taking place with participation of the Russian party,” he added.

Russia may repair about 200 Afghanistan’s defense helicopters if relevant agreements are reached with the US and repair plants in East Europe, Deputy CEO of Rosoboronexport Sergei Goreslavsky told TASS earlier.

 

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Details Show the Extent of Flaws in $1 Bln Afghan Vehicle Maintenance Contract

Afghan National Army (ANA) arrive at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016.

 

 

A number of questionable edits to the initial US-Afghanistan contract on military vehicle maintenance has made costs rise dramatically, from $182 million to over $1 billion, with a number of contract points clearly designed to solely stimulate local profits.

In 2010, the Pentagon established a five-year contract with the Afghan National Army (ANA) to support ANA’s fleet of some 26,000 vehicles. The program, called Afghanistan Technical Equipment Maintenance Program (A-TEMP), was intended to last five years and cost some $182 million. It was designed to provide aid to ANA, enabling “a fully operational fleet of vehicles to provide mobility and protection needed to support its fights against the insurgency.”

An investigation performed by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko discovered that the initial contract wording has been significantly modified. Sopko reported that the contract underwent 68 such modifications, leading to a dramatic rise in the cost of the program and its effective paralysis. The term of contract was also been extended by two years.

The contract is now about to be extended for five additional years, Sopko reported, and the new contract, if authorized, is projected to exceed $1 billion.

During the development of the initial contract, the Army Contracting Command and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan “made inaccurate assumptions about the capacity of the Afghans to manage the supply chain and conduct maintenance,” said the report.

Reports from the ground suggest that the contractor, Afghanistan Integrated Support Services JV (AISS), constantly addresses low literacy rates among Afghan soldiers, as well as the difficulty in encouraging soldiers to simply show up for training and keep that training current. AISS has been hamstrung by a “limited pool of ANA managers who possess the skills necessary to manage the supply chain and maintenance shops,” the report stated.

 

Notably, the contract did not establish performance metrics related to the contractor’s accomplishments. This effectively removed any interest for the contractor to achieve any goals outlined in the agreement.

The most eye-opening aspect of the modified contract, however, is that the Pentagon is being charged based on the total number of vehicles in ANA’s possession, rather than on the number of vehicles repaired.

“Payments to AISS based on ANA vehicle density and not vehicles actually repaired resulted in escalating per-vehicle repair costs from a low of $1,889 to a high per-vehicle repair cost of $51,395,” the SIGAR statement highlights.

The contract wording caused the US government to pay more for AISS to do less work than was required in the original text. The SIGAR report notes that the number of vehicles the AISS repaired in the second quarter of 2012 was 3,072, while the number repaired in the third quarter of 2015 was 82.

The flaws in the contract terms and conditions were exacerbated by deteriorating security conditions that reduced oversight of maintenance work in 2013 and beyond.

As a result, the contract has not only become a “waste of US taxpayer funds,” the report states, but it has also made it difficult for the ANA to carry out military operations.

Sopko’s report says the Pentagon tried to improve its oversight, giving the US Army’s product manager for Allied Tactical Vehicles authority over the contract and hiring seven additional contracting officer representatives.

According to the SIGAR report, “DoD has begun to take initial steps to address the issues raised and apply better practices to the current and upcoming contract.”

Official: Kabul needs Russian-made combat helicopters to counter terrorists

“We have a common enemy with Russia and other countries of the region,” Hanif Atmar, security adviser to the Afghan president said

 

MOSCOW, July 25. /TASS/. Afghanistan interested in buying Russian-made Mi-35 combat helicopters to combat terrorists, Hanif Atmar, security adviser to the Afghan president, told TASS on Monday.

“We need combat helicopters and other weapons to rebuff terrorist groups acting in the Afghan territory more efficiently,” he said. “Now we have obsolete modifications of Russian combat helicopters. We would like to replace them by more modern Mi-35 rotorcraft and to organize training of pilots and technical personnel to service these helicopters. This is issue is of top priority importance for us at the moment.”

According to Atmar, a symbiosis of terrorist groups, including the Taliban movement, militants enjoying support from Pakistan’s and Central Asian radical Islamic organizations, al Qaeda and Islamic State, are acting in the territory of Afghanistan.

“In this sense, we have a common enemy with Russia and other countries of the region,” he said. “However we have no common strategy of countering this enemy. We think that it is necessary to involve countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to the elaboration of such strategy, and Russia has a special role in these efforts.”

Touching on Afghanistan’s prospects for a full-fledged membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where it is currently enjoying an observer status, Atmar stressed that Kabul relies on Moscow’s assistance as no consensus has yet been reached on that matter within the SCO. He said his country is ready for the SCO membership and is capable of fulfilling all the requirements of the organization’s founding documents.

 

Afghanistan Plans to Buy Russian Mi-17, Mi-35 Helicopters

Mi-35 helicopters

 

Kabul intends to strike a deal on buying Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters from Russia.

KABUL     Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar is planning to agree on the purchase of Russian helicopters for the country’s Air Force during his upcoming Moscow visit, the press service said Sunday.

“One of the major aims of the visit is to purchase Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters for Afghan Air Force,” the press service said in a statement, adding that Kabul is expected to negotiate maintenance and repair as well.

During the visit, which is set to kick off on July 25, Atmar is expected to meet with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Broader political and security cooperation, as well as bilateral anti-terror and anti-drug strategies are likely to be on agenda of the talks as well, the statement said.

Afghanistan Seeks to Ask Russia to Intensify Military Support

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier takes up position at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. (File)

 

Moscow and Kabul will continue strengthening their military cooperation, Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister said.

 Kabul will ask Moscow to step up its military support to Afghanistan, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai said Thursday.

“We will continue to strengthen our defense forces,” Karzai said at a round table hosted by the Russian International Affairs Council.

The deputy minister said one of the main goals of his Moscow visit was to address Russian partners and “attract them to provide military support to Afghanistan.”

“Not so long ago, we signed an agreement with Russia on partnership in the field of military-technical support, but we do not intend to stop here, we intend to go further,” he said.

 

Afghanistan Requests Helicopter Deliveries From Russia – Foreign Ministry

A file photo showing an Afghan Mi-17 helicopter takes off for an air-assault training flight from Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan

 

Afghanistan sent an official request to Russia for the delivery of helicopters to Kabul, Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai said Thursday.

 The deputy foreign minister is on an official visit to Moscow, noting that one of the main goals of his trip was to urge Russian partners to provide military support to Afghanistan.

“We sent a request to the Russian Security Council for expanding cooperation [in the military field], including for the deliveries of helicopters to Kabul,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the deputy minister said that Kabul would ask Moscow to step up its military support to Afghanistan.Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil with violence drastically escalating in the country after Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada was appointed a new Taliban leader. The situation is exacerbated by the rising activity of other terrorist groups, such as Daesh, outlawed in many states worldwide, including Russia.

 

‘Graveyard of Empires’: America’s Endless War in Afghanistan

US Marines and Gunnary Sergeant Nate Cosby (R), Staff Sergeant Josh Lacey (2nd R) and Navy Hospitalman 2 Daniel Holmberg (L) from Border Adviser Team (BAT) and Explosive Ordance Disposal (EOD) 1st and 2nd Marine Division (Forward) walk through opium poppy field at Maranjan village in Helmand province on April 25, 2011 as they take patrol with their team and Afghanistan National Police

 

US Soldiers continue to fight and die in Afghanistan and civilians continue to be slaughtered or displaced, despite the fact that 92% of Afghans have never heard of the September 11 tragedy.

Less than one month after the deadly September 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed just under 3,000 American civilians, the United States invaded Afghanistan on October 7 under the guise of hunting down the terrorists responsible for the attacks, including Osama bin Laden.

Years after the al-Qaeda ringleader was killed by a team of Navy SEALS in Pakistani territory, the United States remains embroiled in the simmering conflict, which threatens to boil over again, a war without an endgame.

A recent public opinion poll suggests that it may also be a war on a people who don’t know why they were invaded in the first place, with 92% of Afghani respondents claiming they had never heard of the World Trade Center.

There have been 2,326 US military deaths in Afghanistan since the conflict began 15 years ago, in addition to 1,173 US civilian contractor deaths, with over 2/3 of these fatalities occurring since President Barack Obama assumed office in 2009, on a promise to scale back the conflict.

The situation has been more egregious for Afghanistan’s civilian population, with over 91,000 deaths traced directly to the conflict and an estimated 360,000 additional deaths traced to causes indirectly related to the war, including dislocation of civilian populations, destruction of social services, and devastation of the country’s infrastructure.

The heavy price in lives and the social infrastructure carries on to this day, but with much less reporting than during the Bush administration. A simple reading of current affairs will reveal that the popular focus has shifted to the presidential election season and celebrity stories.

On Monday, Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff under the Bush administration, along with antiwar activists Kathy Kelly and Dilip Hiro to ask why the fighting rages to this day.

 

Did you anticipate that the Afghanistan War would still be waged 15 years later?

“I would have to say that yes there were some of us who saw Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires, some of us who were students of history,” said Col. Wilkerson. “The US got stuck in that graveyard, or they called it a quagmire, and it all comes back to the great geopolitical game played out by the British and other empires for many years.”

Was the war necessary to combat terrorism?

Colonel Wilkerson said that, whether or not war was justified on strategic merit alone, Americans were clamoring for violence after the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed during the 9/11 tragedy. Even a less militaristic US leader, he suggested, such as an Al Gore, would have found himself embroiled in a conflict in Afghanistan simply to assure people that he was doing something to keep the US safe.

However, he opined that Gore would have likely carried out a war in a different way, keeping the effort limited to perhaps a few months. Many Americans believed, he said, that “we would go to Afghanistan for a few months, knock out al-Qaeda the best we could, and send a clear warning to the country’s ruling body, the Taliban, that if they let al-Qaeda back then we’ll attack again.”

Can the war be explained when 92% of Afghans never heard of the World Trade Center?

“I suppose some of the people suffering the most are those who become homeless and displaced, especially the children — who should never be held accountable for governance,” said peace activist Kathy Kelly. “The UN is reporting 117,976 families have had to flee their homes and there are so many different fighting warlords that people aren’t sure which side is which.”

She explained that, for Afghans, one day the roads to their houses are blocked, warlords creep in, and they are forced to head to squalid refugee camps where they suffer the harshest elements during the winter months with no protection.

“Hunger is really terrible in Afghanistan, and it isn’t just the displaced people but also ordinary civilians who have a hard time finding resources to cover rent and food at the same time that the health and education systems have collapsed,” said Kelly. “The economy has tilted so heavily to funding warlords and maintaining the opium trade that Afghanistan has become a miserable place to live.”

Did the United States gain any influence in Afghanistan due to the war?

“No,” responded Dilip Hiro. “When the new President Ghani came into office, he said that we [Afghanistan] have five circles of friends, starting with the Islamic world, then China, and the US and Europe came third and fourth.”

Hiro explained that China and Afghanistan share a long history tracing back to being wedged between the Russian monarchy and the governors of British India in the 19th century, and that both of the neighboring countries have long been caught in a struggle against Western imperialism.

He suggested that a geopolitical view motivating the US intervention in Afghanistan, beyond a several-month anti-terror campaign, may have been a desire to have a permanent base in the country to constrain the ambitions of China and Iran, but that endeavor failed after Chinese companies built roads and bolstered social services in the country, winning the favor of Afghans.

What is the driving force behind this endless war besides anti-terrorism?

Colonel Wilkerson argued that the ongoing conflict is largely the design of the US military-industrial economy, along with foreign and military policymakers feeding personal agendas, ambitions, and pocketbooks at the expense of Americans.

“I don’t want to pay another American dollar to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop, or McKesson or any of those filthy defense contractors,” declared Colonel Wilkerson.

“Look at our two choices for President – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” he said, “There is not an iota worth of difference between them, except that Trump is incoherent and Clinton, unfortunately, is very coherent about the fact that she would continue this playbook on foreign policy that we have carried out for the past thirty years that is extremely expensive and extremely dangerous. It bleeds our treasury and it bleeds our people while less than 1% of our population serves in the military, bleeding and dying.”