A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from a Texas Air Force base where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, FoxNews.com has learned.
The Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, “Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.],” issued by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas, and obtained by FoxNews.com.
The Afghans were attending the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The DLI program teaches English to military pilot candidates and other air force prospects from foreign countries allied with the U.S.
“I can confirm that 17 have gone missing from the Defense Language Institute,” said Gary Emery, Chief of Public Affairs, 37th Training Wing, at Lackland AFB. “They disappeared over the course of the last two years, and none in the last three months.”
Each Afghan was issued a Department of Defense Common Access Card, an identification card used to gain access to secure military installations, with which they “could attempt to enter DOD installations,” according to the bulletin. Base security officers were encouraged to disseminate the bulletin to their personnel.
“The visas issued to these personnel have been revoked, or are in the process of being revoked. Lookouts have been placed in TECS,” it reads.
Treasury Enforcement Communications System
(TECS), which is shared by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is a computer-based database used to identify people suspected of violating federal law.
Included in the bulletin are photos of the 17 men, accompanied by their dates of birth and their TECS Lookout numbers.
The bulletin requests, “If any Afghan pictured herein is encountered, detain the subject and contact your local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, the FBI or NCIS.”
A senior Defense Department official in Washington told Fox News he had no direct knowledge of the 17 men being AWOL. The official added that this is not the first time foreign trainees have gone missing, and said some cases in the past have turned out to be more of an immigration concern than a national security threat.
The FBI and NCIS did not respond to requests for comment. A Department of Homeland Security spokesman referred FoxNews.com to the FBI.