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Third, there have been disruptions: In mid-2012, the entire Afghan air force was grounded temporarily because of safety concerns across its fleet.

Coalition trainers are taking on three tasks at once: congregating, training and advising members of the young air force as it takes on more combat responsibilities.

“If you were to ask me what the biggest [challenge] was that’s time,” said Air Force Col. James Brandenburg, commander of the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, which is training the Afghans’ Kandahar air wing.

After 2014, coalition forces are expected to provide limited air support, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — capabilities that Afghans are developing by taking photos from the Cessnas.

“Low-tech, but they’ve worked. They’ve spied on enemy positions,” Gen. Shepro said.

It is these solutions that coalition and Afghan officials are employing to get the air force into the skies on its own as soon as possible.

“We have to regrow an entire generation of people that were literally destroyed by the Taliban and al Qaeda,” said Col. Brandenburg. “I’m very, very happy and very proud here to be a part of this team for what we’re trying to do, and that is really to give them a chance, a chance to experience the type of freedoms that really all peoples should have around the world.”