WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is asking for answers from the Department of Defense after a report published today showed that a significant number of trainees from the Afghan military went missing after coming to the United States on various training programs.
From 2005 to 2017, 2,537 individuals from Afghanistan came to the United States for training through various programs, including the Counter Drug Training Support, International Military Education and Training, and multiple military leadership courses. During this time 152 of the trainees went Absent Without Leave (AWOL), representing over 47% of the total number of foreign military trainees that went AWOL during that period. According to the report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), as of March 2017, 139 of the AWOL trainees had fled the United States, gained legal status in the United States, were no longer AWOL for various reasons, or were removed or in the process of being removed. However, 13 individuals had never been located.
“Given my role on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, I have no bigger responsibility than ensuring Congress is considering the internal security and safety of families in Missouri and around the country,” McCaskill said. “The majority of these Afghan military trainees have been located, but the fact that any of them remain unaccounted for is deeply concerning and it’s important we get more information on how this happened and what’s being done to locate these individuals.”
McCaskill asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to confirm the report’s findings, as well as the procedures used to locate missing trainees. She also sought information on the cost of these training programs, and what steps DoD is taking to reduce the number of trainees who go AWOL.
McCaskill has served on both the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and Armed Services Committee since joining the Senate in 2007, and has made protecting American families at home and abroad a top priority. Earlier this month, HSGAC approved McCaskill’s bipartisan bill to help determine weaknesses in security following a terrorist attack. McCaskill has continued to fight for counterterrorism funding during a recent HSGAC hearing with the FBI Director, the Homeland Security Acting Secretary, and the National Counterterrorism Center Director. She also called for answers from DoD following a contract that left taxpayers on the hook for over $50 million in questionable costs, including seven luxury vehicles and $400,000 average salaries for significant others of corporate officers to serve as “executive assistants.”
A link to McCaskill’s letter can be found online HERE.