VALDOSTA, Ga.--The A-29 Super Tucano is fast, precise, and it's the best on the market for Afghan pilots to train on. That's according to its manufacturers.
Only the pilots won't be in Afghanistan, but here in the United States, south Georgia, Moody Air Force Base to be exact.
"They all to some degree have all suffered under the hands of the Taliban so I can tell you having talked to them personally, they are all motivated to get trained," said Lt. Col. Jeff Hogan, Light Air Support training unit commander.
Hogan says the base will receive a new class every six months. In total, about 30 pilots and 90 maintenance crew members will train through 2018. They'll learn everything they need to know about the Super Tucano. They'll also get to keep 20 of these attack aircraft.
"When these students return back to Afghanistan they'll be going right in conflict so we're very conscious that we need to do our very best to have them prepared when they return," said Hogan.
For each group that comes in, officers will be assigned to help them adjust to living here.
"We'll be teaching them, but we'll be learning from them as well," said Hogan.
Hogan says its considered a graduate training program, but some people are skeptical about having Afghan pilots in the United States or Moody Air Force Base to train.
"It kind of make me feel okay, but then again not okay because they could get over there and use that defense against us," said Derrick Crawford, a south Georgia resident.
"I feel very controversial toward that," said Hunter Rondello, a south Georgia resident. "I'm not real sure. I feel like we need to take proactive steps to operating more than just America in different combat situations, so it's handling their own problems."
In September, three afghan soldiers left a base Massachusetts and didn't return. They were missing for several days and found at the U.S.-Canadian border. A concern for many citizens, but not for Hogan as the training exercise is unrelated to the one that will start soon at Moody Air Force Base.
Hogan says they students have been through heavy background checks.
"These Afghans are all personally invested in this mission and very well vetted through the government of Afghanistan through NATO Air Training Command," said Hogan.
The Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko is critical of the Light Air Support program. In a letter to outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and other top military officials he has asked for a meeting on concerns his office has on the program.
You can read that letter by clicking here
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