It is no secret that thousands of Afghan troops have come to the United States for training by the military.
What has just been revealed, however, is that since January 2015, 44 Afghan soldiers have disappeared from U.S. bases, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told Reuters.
Eight men disappeared in September alone.
Some of the missing troops have ended up in Canada with the help of an illegal pipeline, while others have presumably attempted to go unnoticed in the United States.
At a briefing Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said 32 of the missing soldiers had been located.
Since 2007, the United States has trained approximately 2,200 Afghan troops on various American military bases.
While the number of missing Afghan soldiers is relatively small compared with the number to successfully complete their military training, a U.S. defense official called the incidents concerning and “out of the ordinary.”
The disappearances could prove to be an embarrassment to the Obama administration, which has spent billions of dollars training Afghan soldiers so that they can return home and protect their country.
“The Defense Department is assessing ways to strengthen eligibility criteria for training in ways that will reduce the likelihood of an individual Afghan willingly absconding from training in the U.S. and going AWOL,” Stump said.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been vocal in his criticism of President Obama and his inability to vet immigrants arriving in the U.S. from countries with a Muslim majority.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigration when he becomes president.
Some experts blame low morale, improper military training and lack of opportunities in Afghanistan for the soldiers’ decisions to abandon their positions.
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, explained why he believed the troops have gone AWOL.
“They face a formidable enemy, with very limited resources and many Afghan troops aren’t getting paid on time,” he said. (For more from the author of “Pentagon Officials Admit Afghan Soldiers Have Disappeared From US Military Bases” please click HERE)