News & Politics

Two Afghan Trainees Have Been Missing from Moody Air Force Base Since Monday

A mock F-16 fighter jet is silhouetted against the sky at sunrise as workers pass through security and make their way onto Moody Air Force Base early Friday, Oct. 29, 1999, in Valdosta, Ga. Just north of one of Moody's runways, a Navy Blue Angels jet crashed Thursday killing both pilots. The crash site has been closed to the public. (AP Photo/Mark Foley)

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Two Afghan national flight team members who had been training to fly A-29 Super Tucano attack planes have been missing from Moody Air Force Base since Monday, military officials say.

According to Air Force officials at the military instillation near Valdosta, Ga., the two male Afghan aircraft mechanics did not report for duty Monday with the 81st Fighter Squadron.

Moody officials issued a statement but said there is no other updated information being released “at this point.”

“They have been at Moody since February and were screened prior to their arrival in the United States more than a year ago,” the news release states. “The students have trained alongside American counterparts for the entirety of 2015 and do not pose any apparent threat.”

Federal agents are searching for the two men, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The police chief in nearby Valdosta says “there’s zero evidence that these guys are terrorists.”

Childress said base officials met with local law enforcement several months ago to plan for the possibility that some of the Afghanistan trainees could go absent without leave.

“Anytime you bring in foreign military to our country, you have to prepare for that kind of thing,” Childress said.

He said that on Tuesday, he began hearing from Valdosta residents concerned about the missing men “in light of what’s happened out in San Bernardino,” but he called this “a totally difference circumstance.”

“You’ve got to remember these folks were cleared by the U.S. military and by the Department of Defense to come in and train,” Childress said. “These guys have been here since February of 2015, and they have not caused a problem at all.”

There may be zero evidence that they are terrorists, but they are Afghan nationals who are 100% AWOL — and that’s certainly reason for concern.