U.S. Trains South Sudan Air Experts?



The U.S. Air Force Special Operations School in Hurlburt, Florida, last week launched its inaugural "Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course." The training course in basic aviation planning "included representatives from the U.S., Costa Rica and Sudan," the Air Force reported.

Costa Rica, sure. But Sudan? Since Washington does not have formal military ties to Khartoum, in this case "Sudan" can only mean one thing: the breakaway region of South Sudan, which signed a peace treaty with Khartoum four years ago, ending decades of bloody civil war.

American ties to South Sudan are deep and getting deeper. The U.S. State Department pays an American mercenary firm to train the South’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army, pictured. Washington’s envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force general Scott Gration, visits Khartoum and Juba (the South’s major city) as though the latter were also the capital of a widely recognized sovereign state. The SPLA buys many of its arms from Ukraine, with Kenya as a key facilitator: Washington seems unhappy with this. Still, South Sudan is Washington’s wild card in any future Central African crisis.

South Sudan stood up its air force just last year. It’s not clear if the SPLA air wing even has any aircraft yet. But if and when it does, it will be able to draw on well-educated aviation experts, trained right here in the USA.

(Photo: Boston.com)