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Afghan airmen are preparing to fight

WASHINGTON — After years of recruiting and training, Afghan airmen are getting ready to fight.

Now equipped with Russian-made attack helicopters — a relic of their war-tattered past — the Afghan Army Air Corps soon will start using force in their missions, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Walter Givhan said Wednesday.

Officials called it a significant step for a unit that grew from nothing just a few years ago.

"This has been part of a very deliberate training regimen that we have created for them," Givhan told reporters at the Pentagon during a half-hour videoconference from Kabul.

There are currently 2,700 airmen in the Afghan corps, and Givhan said it's hoped that number will grow to 7,250 by 2016.