Two men from Afghanistan who are undergoing training at an Air Force base in Georgia have been reported missing, officials said Tuesday.
Officials at Moody Air Force Base, near Valdosta, said in a statement the two students didn’t report Monday to “their regular maintenance training” with the 81st Fighter Squadron.
The two men have been training at the base since February and “were screened prior to their arrival in the United States more than a year ago,” according to the statement. “There’s zero evidence that these guys are terrorists,” said Brian Childress, police chief in Valdosta, which is near Moody Air Force Base.
Officials said federal authorities are searching for the students, who have been training “alongside American counterparts for the entirety of 2015 and do not pose any apparent threat.” Officials didn’t release a description of the men or their names.
The two had been at Moody since February 2015 as part of a training program aimed at improving the Afghanistan air force, according to the base’s statement.
The program aims to train a total of 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintenance personnel during a four-year period, Moody Air Force Base said in an August 2014 release when the program was announced. It was not clear how many trainees from Afghanistan are currently at the base.
Childress said base officials met with local law enforcement several months ago to plan for the possibility that some of the Afghanistan trainees could go absent without leave.
“Anytime you bring in foreign military to our country, you have to prepare for that kind of thing,” Childress said.
He said that on Tuesday, he began hearing from Valdosta residents concerned about the missing men “in light of what’s happened out in San Bernardino,” but he called this “a totally difference circumstance.”
“You’ve got to remember these folks were cleared by the U.S. military and by the Department of Defense to come in and train,” Childress said. “These guys have been here since February of 2015, and they have not caused a problem at all.”