Footage that started flooding the internet in the early summer of 2021 shows an Afghan National Airforce that is capable of holding ground against the Taliban.
The situation in Afghanistan deteriorated rapidly over the summer as Taliban forces were easily able to overcome a logistically drained Afghan National Army with floundering and limited air support. Footage coming out of the region in June and July however paints an entirely different picture of the situation on the ground. It painted an image of a strong Afghan National Airforce that was more than capable of holding its own against Taliban forces, keeping the Afghan National Army on the ground well supported and winning in an ANA-sided stalemate. So, what changed?
Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan, and soon the people of the rest of the world who the Taliban consider an enemy, the Afghan National Airforce was the key for the Afghan government to hold ground in their country. The air support allowed Afghan National Army troops to not only logistically hold the line, but it also enabled them to gain fire superiority in gunfights with the Taliban, and to destroy high value targets that the Taliban were using to bring the fight towards the ANA.
When we pulled all of our support, and the Taliban ramped up their operations, the Afghan National Airforce was stretched far too thin. On top of long operational flight hours, the aircraft themselves required constant maintenance that was not possible without the aid of American contractors and experienced American service members who could help keep these combat flight operations in the air.
For the Afghan National Army on the ground, this meant limited air support in gunfights. It also meant a lack of logistical support at some 400 positions throughout the country where the only way key logistics like bullets, bandages, beans and batteries could get to them was via air resupply. Without these two key thing, most specifically a lack of logistics, the Afghan National Army was set up to fail because all of their training from allied counter-parts taught them how to fight like a modern military.