Russian Mi-17 helos have been a force multiplier for the Afghan military and police in their fight against the Taliban, a top US general has acknowledged.
The Mi-17 helicopter has been a "game changer" in the movement of Afghan soldier and supplies to far corners of the country, the US Army general in charge of American operations and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying.
"I think they (Mi-17) have been a force multiplier for the special operating forces and for the conventional forces, the army and the police, they have been mostly moving forces and providing resupply," US Army Gen. John F. Campbell told a gathering of reporters inside the Pentagon briefing room Thursday.
"I think that capability continues to build confidence in the Afghan security forces and Afghan people. I have been really, really impressed," Campbell noted.
The General went on to say Mi-17's capabilities were allowing Afghan soldiers to be resupplied under difficult terrain and weather circumstances. Campbell called the Mi-17 capabilities "pretty incredible."
There are currently 84 Mi-17 helicopters being used by Afghan forces and an additional three more are expected, Campbell said.
The use of the Mi-17 has not been without controversy among those in Congress. In August, the US Representative for Connecticut's 3rd congressional district, member of the Democratic Party, Rosa DeLauro told CBS news the US government should not be supporting contract with the Russian government or contractor Rosoboronexport because it would be supporting the "the coffers of Russian arms dealers."
US military officials, including Campbell, have disagreed with any restrictions on the Mi-17 use in Afghanistan by coalition members.