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Afghan officers exchange ideas with Air Force counterparts

by Staff Sgt. Kevin Tomko
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/26/2007 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFNEWS) -- Eight Afghan army air corps officers recently visited the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group here. The group came to exchange ideas with their Air Force counterparts.

"They learned a lot," said Capt. Tommy Butler, who is an air corps advisory group mentor. "The Afghans don't have a complete infrastructure yet. They came to see what a full operation looks like."

Squadron commanders from the 455th EMSG accompanied their Afghan counterparts throughout the seven-hour visit. The Afghan officers were briefed on the Air Force organizational structure and were provided an overview of the Joint Logistics Center.
"They also came to see our organizational structure," said Col. Terri Chaney, the 455th EMSG commander. "It is actually a mentoring program for the Afghan officers. Their organization has a structure similar to ours with only slight differences."

The group toured such departments as services, security forces, personnel, supply, vehicle operations, civil engineering, aerial port and communications. At each location the Afghans were shown how that organization worked.

One of the main differences the Afghans noticed is chain-of-command duties. The Afghan officers said they handle even the smallest tasks themselves rather than delegating them to the lower ranks. Also, in their units it is common for visitors to walk right in to speak with a commanding officer without speaking to an executive officer or NCO first.

"The thing that impressed the Afghans the most was the duties of our non-commissioned officers," said Lt. Col. Steven Johnson, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron commander. This was the first time he got a chance to speak to Afghans since he arrived at Bagram. "They were surprised at how much responsibility we gave our NCOs."

Captain Butler said the Army is setting up mentoring programs such as this all over Afghanistan.

"I think this was a ground breaking event," said Maj. Corey Ramsby, the 54th Expeditionary Combat Communications Squadron commander. "It's quite humbling to see the beginnings of a new country's air force," he said.

"My counterpart was impressed with what we have here, but I think he had mixed emotions because he was in Bagram in 1999. This was actually his base at one time, and now we're here."

The Air Force squadron commanders were impressed at the Afghans' dedication and how hard they were trying to make their air corps work.

"We will continue to support the Afghan army air corps," Colonel Chaney said. "Next time, we will go to their base in Kabul and exchange more ideas."

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