KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Afghan helicopter, a brand-new Russian-made Mi-17*, wasn't clearly his, but U.S. Air Force Maj. Darren Brumfield was still determined to keep it. His unit, the 438th Air Expeditionary Training Group, needs four transport helicopters to perform its mission, and in early November, the group had just three.
Assembled in Kandahar in April and tasked with mentoring the local Afghan National Army Air Corps wing, the group "shadows" and advises its Afghan counterparts as the Afghans maintain and fly the helicopters on behalf of the Afghan military. But of the three helicopters the unit did have on hand, two were in need of maintenance, with one of them in such bad shape that it essentially needed be replaced.
"We're broke," is how Master Sgt. John Anderson put it.