Nationwide Alert Issued for 10 AWOL Afghan Soldiers
June 19, 2010
(ChattahBox)— Who can really blame them? A number of Afghan military members, receiving English training in Texas, have gone AWOL in the United States, instead of returning to their war-torn and backwards country. And the problem has become something of an epidemic. In the past 18-months, 17 Afghans have disappeared, since arriving at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The most recent Afghan desertion occurred in January. None of the missing military members in the pilot training program, are thought to be a security threat. But nevertheless, on Wednesday, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service issued a nationwide alert to federal law enforcement. According to Air Force spokesman Gary Emery, the men went through a background check before arriving in the United States:
The men were vetted by the military and aren’t believed to be connected to one another or to any terrorist group, Emery said. All had been studying English as a precursor to training sponsored by the U.S. and Afghan militaries.
“I don’t think that anybody’s really concerned that this is any sort of a plot or that they’re looking to do anybody any harm,” he said. Like other such foreign desertions, the Afghans are seeking a “better life,” says Emery.
As each of the 17 Afghans went missing, their travel papers and other documents were canceled and law enforcement and immigration authorities were alerted. But, what suddenly prompted military authorities to issue a very public and more comprehensive alert on Wednesday, is unknown.
Seven of the deserters have since been found, with ten still missing:
“Sources also said that as of November 2009, one of the deserters was in Canada, one is now a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., one has left the country and another four are in federal custody and in removal proceedings. The other 10 remain unaccounted for.”
Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX) has called for an investigation, calling the Afghan deserters a serious “threat to the safety and security of our homeland.”
Photo Source: Air Force Photo