It's not out of the ordinary for Afghan military officials to come to the U.S. for training. And, as a National Guard search for three missing soldiers demonstrates, it's getting more common for them to vanish, too.
Sunday night, the Massachusetts National Guard said three Afghan soldiers who were participating in an international training exercise in Cape Cod went missing.
They were picked up Monday by Canadian border agents after the men made it across the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the U.S. to Canada near Niagara Falls. It's not yet known where they were going or why.
The disappearing act came around the same time as a similar story from Virginia. Two Afghan policemen who were training with the DEA went missing last week. The two men were also found in the Buffalo, New York area.
In both cases, the media coverage when Afghan soldiers went missing had a pretty strong note of tension, despite assurances from military officials that none of the men posed a threat.
LT. COL. JAMES SAHADY VIA WBZ-TV: "That's the big question right now: did they go sightseeing or did they get lost, etc. Or did they have other agendas that we don't know about at this time."
NEWSCHANNEL 8: "They've all been vetted and polygraphed, but given the war over there and the threats, tourists and others expressed concern." ...
"To think, we have them here and we're not keeping track when we're training them."
A blogger at Breitbart laid it all out there: "Numerous terrorist attacks, including the recent killing of a U.S. Army General, have been carried out by uniformed Afghan soldiers or security forces."
He's referring to so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, where uniformed Afghan soldiers turn their guns on coalition troops, including Americans. There have been at least four such attacks this year. (Video via U.S. Department of Defense)
But in this case media analysts suggested a more benign motive for the disappearances.
CTV: "In a lot of countries, there's a belief that Canada has a lot more relaxed refugee or immigration laws. And there's a serious concern among Afghans that as the coalition prepares to leave, they will be left at the Taliban's mercy."
Asylum-seeking behavior certainly isn't unheard of. Earlier this month, a senior Afghan military officer was sent to London to carry his country's flag at a NATO summit. He immediately went from the airport to a police station and asked to be sheltered in the U.K.
This video includes images from Getty Images.