Donkeys replace helicopters in Afghanistan

Nov. 9, 2012 at 5:22 PM
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PECH VALLEY, Afghanistan, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Afghan troops, tasked with defending outposts without high-tech equipment such as helicopters and jets, are relying on donkeys, a military official said.

Hundreds of donkeys are sustaining bases built and defended by U.S. troops and are in use as modern air power and transport equipment are being withdrawn, The Washington Post reported Friday.

"Donkeys are the Afghan helicopter," said Col. Abdul Nasseeri, an Afghan battalion commander in Konar province.

While U.S. military officials hope the use of donkeys is an "Afghan-sustainable" approach that can endure as Western support tapers off, Afghanistan's security leaders are displeased. After a decade of exposure to cutting-edge technology, they want their military to look like the U.S. army, an approach the U.S. government considers unfeasible and unrealistic, the newspaper said.

With U.S. helicopters on their way home, the donkey trade has risen steadily, transporting soldiers' needs from food to ammunition, and key fighting positions are being maintained by donkeys and their handlers.

One of the handlers, a 16-year-old named Qamuddin in Pech Valley, Afghanistan, said: "You are the richest and most powerful countries in the world. Of course you can afford helicopters. Without donkeys, there would be no Afghan army."

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