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Letters: Afghanistan's female fliers

January 01, 2013

Re "Female pilots on standby," Column One, Dec. 28

The article implies that because these women are serving in the male-dominated Afghan armed forces, they are being deliberately left behind.

The fact is that both the pilots profiled by The Times are scheduled to go back on active duty this month and will soon begin training on Afghan helicopters. It should be noted that reservists occasionally wait extended periods before going back on active duty to resume training. This happens in Western armies too.

I believe The Times could have shown better editorial judgment by not printing a picture of the pilots' faces and their names. These women are symbols of the future of Afghanistan, something the Taliban deeply fear. Afghan women are making real progress in their armed forces, their service and sacrifices are valued, and they are a growing point of pride for the people of Afghanistan. This article would have been just as powerful had The Times withheld the pilots' identities.

Army Col. Thomas Collins

Kabul

The writer is the public affairs officer for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

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