Search continues for 2 Afghan men missing from Ga. Air Force base

Federal authorities say trainees missing since Monday pose no threat


MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – A large-scale search continued Wednesday for two Afghan military members reported missing Monday while training at a base near Valdosta, Georgia.

According to officials from Moody Air Force Base, the two students didn't report on Monday to their regular maintenance training with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force base. The men, who are part of a group of military forces from Afghanistan being trained in the U.S., remain missing.

Several agencies, including the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, FBI, Valdosta Police Department and Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, are involved in the search.

The Sheriff's Office issued a statement Wednesday about the search:

"We have and will continue to remain vigilant and will certainly offer any assistance requested by our law enforcement partners on the base," Sheriff Chris Prine said in a statement Wednesday.

The Sheriff's Office said after it was made aware of the two missing students Tuesday, it immediately distributed information about the pair to all deputies, including those assigned as school resource officers at the county's schools.

The two men have been at Moody since February 2015 and "were screened prior to their arrival in the United States more than a year ago," according to base officials.

Federal authorities are searching for the students, who they said have been training "alongside American counterparts for the entirety of 2015 and do not pose any apparent threat."

But many residents in the area were concerned.

“It is a little scary with all of the things that have been going on, even in California,” Tracy Carter said. “All the stuff that's been happening, it's real scary.”

Carter lives about a mile from Moody Air Force Base.

“It's a little scary living not too far from it,” she said. “I would say that I don't see any search crews or anything like that.”

Several people who live in the area said they had no idea that the U.S. was training Afghan military members in South Georgia. Some questioned that decision, especially with all the terror threats the country is facing.

“I had no idea that we were training people here,” Carter said. “It was the first time I heard it come on whenever these guys went missing. I think as a country we should be informed.”

A spokesman for the base said the military is not releasing the name or pictures of the missing men right now. Officials are also not giving out any more details about their investigation, other than to say it's "well-coordinated" and they're trying to find the men as quickly as possible.

Those who live and work in the area said they're looking, too.

“I'm going to keep my eye out for them. Yes, sir. If I see anybody, I will let them know,” Jonathan Hall said.

Carter said she will be more vigilant, too.

“I am more aware of my surroundings,” she said. “Very much more aware of my surroundings as far as my day-to-day movement. Just a little bit more cautious.”

Last year, three Afghan National Army officers, guests of the U.S. military at a training exercise in Massachusetts, disappeared and then reappeared in the custody of Canadian border guards.

One of the three was later granted asylum.

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