South Georgia Residents Have Conflicting Opinions On Afghan Pilots Training At Moody Air Force Base

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Updated By: Winnie Wright
August 26, 2014

Moody Air Force Base, GA - 30 Afghan pilots and as many as 90 Afghan maintainers are expected to train at Moody Air Force Base over the next four years.

While local and state officials say they're happy to have the mission in South Georgia, some residents have a different opinion.

As early as next month, a slue of A-29 air crafts may be seen flying overhead in South Georgia, as they make their way to their new home at Moody Air Force Base. Last week, the Air Force chose Moody to support the first-of-its-kind A-29 mission.

"Well, it's a great honor for Moody Air Force Base. Moody was selected because it was the best location for this training mission; a combination of the air space, the ranges, and the existing facilities, made it the ideal choice", says Lt. Colonel, Jeff Hogan, Commander of Detachment 1 - 14th Operations Group.

Senator Saxby Chambliss applauded the decision, and said having Afghan service members train in South Georgia, "ensures our airmen can conduct this important training mission from the safety of one of our premier U.S. bases."

But with the recent killing of Maj. Gen. Harold Greene by an Afghan soldier, how do residents of South Georgia feel about Afghan personnel calling Moody home?

"The gun has been turned on citizens before, and it's kind of scary", says Valdosta Resident, Camille Whittacker.

But not everyone agrees.

"Anything they every bring to Moody is nothing but good news", says Family Pizza Owner, Nick Panousis, who says he gets 95 percent of his business from the base.

Some have raised questions about the Afghan military's ability to continue their mission when U.S. troops are gone. Col. Hogan says that isn't a concern at Moody right now.

"What we are going to do is train them as best as we possibly can to assume this mission so when we eventually leave Afghanistan, and let them determine their own future, that they are prepared to do so", says Col. Hogan.

The first Afghan trainees are expected to begin training in February 2015.

Skeptics have also raised concerns about the difference between the South Georgia swamp lands, where the pilots will practice firing missiles, and the Afghan deserts, where they'll actually carry out their missions.

News Release: Associated Press
August 23, 2014

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AP) -- The Air Force has chosen its base in south Georgia to train Afghan pilots and maintenance crews on a light attack and reconnaissance plane.

U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson congratulated commanders of Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta on the announcement Friday. Robins had been among three bases considered for the mission to train Afghan air force personnel on the A-29 Tucano Light Air Support aircraft. It's a turboprop plane designed for light attack and aerial reconnaissance missions.

Chambliss said having Afghan service members train in south Georgia "ensures our airmen can conduct this important training mission from the safety of one of our premier U.S. bases."

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