The U.S. government is snapping up Russian-made helicopters to form the core of Afghanistan's fledgling air force, a strategy that is drawing flak from members of Congress who want to force the Afghans to fly American choppers instead.
U.S. and Afghan military officials who favor the Mi-17, which was designed for use in Afghanistan, acknowledge that it might seem odd for the Pentagon to invest in Russian military products. But they said that changing helicopter models would throw a wrench into the effort to train Afghan pilots, none of whom can fly U.S.-built choppers.
(Emphasis mine.) Senators Shelby and Dodd are more interested in throwing business at the military-industrial complex in the US than they are about actually doing what works. As Andrew Exum put it on his twitter feed: "When Afghan pilots can *fly* American, we will *buy* American ... But right now we're trying to win a war here, okay?"
This comes on the heels of last year's battle over the F-22 that the Pentagon didn't want and the second engine for the F-35 that the Pentagon didn't want. Politicians may posture about the security of the country, but they're really just interested in keeping all that defense money in their districts. This is what makes me despair about defense budget cuts despite having a SecDef who knows they need to happen.