KABUL, Afghanistan — Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing recently traveled to Hamid Karzai International Airport to assist Train, Advice, Assist Command-Air with training and validating the Afghanistan air force’s aircrew flight equipment section.
The three-day trip gave the 455th AEW Airmen the opportunity to share their AFE knowledge with their Afghan counterparts and also assist TACC-Air with keeping coalition AFE current.
Having AFE qualified technicians is critical as Afghanistan continues to strengthen its air force.
“We’re building up the Afghan air force so they can stand on their own two feet,” said Master Sgt. Michael Doane, the TAAC-Air flight equipment adviser and operations team superintendent. “A critical part of that is making sure the pilots can leave and return safely to base and they do that with the equipment AFE provides for them in the aircraft.”
Doane is a one-man shop and having the extra help from the 455th truly makes an impact on the success of the TACC-Air mission.
“With having the extra help here we were able to get a week’s worth of work done in a half a day,” Doane said. “Without the last visit and this visit I wouldn’t be able to survive my mission and would have failed without working seven days a week, 15 hours a day. It was awesome to have the help and be able to have a team here; the support has been immeasurable.”
One of the Airmen who assisted Doane works with him back at their home station of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and he knew he would bring a lot of C-130 knowledge to share with the Afghanistan air force.
“Having his expertise here for the C-130 (Hercules) mission is awesome,” Doane said. “A lot of the things I’ve learned at Little Rock, with it being my first C-130 base, were taught to me by Staff Sergeant Maurer. So who better to come down and teach these guys. Having worked together in the past I knew it would be a good example for the Afghans to see how the U.S. Air Force works. Knowing what he would say and do showed a unified front and that we have our stuff together.”
The Afghanistan air force C-130s were acquired from the U.S., and once resided at Little Rock AFB, so seeing the same aircraft they use to work on brought back memories for the two Airmen.
“It was surreal to see the same aircraft that I had seen for years,” said Staff Sgt. John Maurer, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron AFE NCO in charge. “I remembered all the times of opening the door and climbing the steps to do postflight inspections with an American flag on the tail, now coming out here and seeing the same aircraft with Afghan flag is really cool.”
For Doane, it was full circle seeing some of the same aircraft he worked on at Little Rock AFB.
“The latest aircraft we received I got a folder with all the inspection letters addressed to me,” Doane said. “I got to show the Afghans that this came from my base and now I’m here to train them on it. I think it is appreciated to the lowest levels of the AFE shop here that I’m here to teach them on equipment I’m familiar with.”
After the three day trip, the 455th AEW Airmen were amazed at how much knowledge the Afghan airmen retained from Doane and their eagerness to learn more.
“I was honestly taken back on how much the Afghans wanted to show their knowledge of AFE with us,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Voaklander, the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron AFE quality assurance NCO in charge. “Even with a language barrier they were able to point at things and show us what they would normally check and demonstrated what they have learned.”