The Afghan National Security Forces continue to develop thanks to the support and partnership of British Armed Forces. Their airborne capability is also growing in the shape of the Air Interdiction Unit (AIU) who give valuable air support to the Afghan National Police on counter-narcotics operations.
The unit enables the counter-narcotics police to reach what would otherwise be completely inaccessible parts of Afghanistan.
A British advisor is working alongside the pilots during their training in Kabul, including practicing on live-firing ranges:
The pilots in the Air Interdiction Unit are amongst the most skilled in the Afghan National Security Forces,” said Group Captain Adrian Hill, Deputy Commander of NATO Air Training Command in Afghanistan.
They continue to do some very specialist training - overseen by the coalition - in what are some very challenging and testing environmental conditions. The Afghan pilots are a real pleasure to work with,” said Gp Capt Hill.
They’re extremely keen to learn, and they take great pride in their training.
Lieutenant Colonel Ziarmal, Executive Officer of the Air Interdiction Unit, said:
We practise in different countries, like the US, UK, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
We recruit young men,” he said. “They have their medical tests, then they stay here in Kabul for one year to learn the English language. After that we train them for two years. Then they come back and start work with us.
Morale is very important,” said Lt Col Ziarmal. “So is health and education. We all work as a team.
Last year the British government issued the AIU with new equipment, vehicles, and uniforms. The AIU currently has twenty MI-17 helicopters and by the end of 2012 the unit is expected to number almost 100 pilots and air crew.