By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan - Airmen assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing recently traveled to Hamid Karzai International Airport to assist Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air with training and validating the Afghan 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 TAAC-Air with keeping Coalition AFE equipment 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, 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 TAAC-Air mission.
“With having the extra help here we were able to get a week’s worth of work done in half a day,” said Doane. “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 came down to assist 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 AAF.
“Having his expertise here for the C-130 mission is awesome. 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 Sgt. Maurer,” said Doane. “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 AAF C-130s were acquired from the U.S. and once resided at Little Rock, so seeing the same aircraft that they used to work on brought back memories for the two Little Rock Airmen.
“It was surreal to see the same aircraft that I had seen for years,” said Staff Sgt. John Maurer, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron AFE noncommissioned officer in charge. “I remembered all the times of opening the door and climbing the steps to do post-flight inspections with an American flag on the tail, now coming out here and seeing the same aircraft with an Afghan flag is really cool.”
“It’s full circle seeing some of the same aircraft that I’ve worked on at Little Rock,” said Doane. “The latest aircraft we received I got a folder with all the inspection letters addressed to me. 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, 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron AFE quality assurance noncommissioned officer 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.”
“It was pretty awesome to share the knowledge I have for my job with someone who truly appreciates it and is eager to learn,” said Maurer. “They appreciated the fact that we took time out of our regular job to teach them.”