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Lead-in training increases Afghan capabilities

By 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, / Published February 02, 2015

FORWARD OPERATING BASE OQAB, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air maintainers are providing lead-in training to Afghan air force airmen at the Kabul Air Wing in an effort to ensure they excel at the C-130 Hercules maintenance courses they will attend in the U.S.

Though some Afghans have already begun training in the U.S., learning a new language and aircraft maintenance at the same time can be difficult. This lead-in training gives the Afghan maintainers a head start.

"We are trying to provide them aircraft familiarization, much like we do back home," said Senior Master Sgt. Orlando Guevarez, a TAAC-Air advisor and member of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. "In the Guard, an Airman can go to basic training, and then wait up to a full year to attend training. During that time, we try to provide basic aircraft instruction so they can work and stay motivated."

Thus far, the student's motivation has been high, with more Afghans than expected attending the first day of training. Afghan air force leadership also spoke to the C-130 maintenance students about the significance of the training.

"It's important to Afghanistan we have this training here. If you can learn, we can take control of these planes and mission," said Afghan air force Col. Shafi, the Kabul AW maintenance group commander.

Having the ability to maintain C-130s is another step toward the Afghans taking the lead in all aspects of operating the Afghan air force. To accomplish this, many Afghans will attend training in the U.S. and bring what they've learned back to Afghanistan. To make them more successful in the classes, the Afghan airmen currently split their days between English language training and now lead-in maintenance training.

"Their training here will give them a leg up on any follow-on training," said Capt. Ronald Rios, a C-130 maintenance advisor with the 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. "Up until now, the Puerto Rico Air National Guard has been largely responsible for C-130 maintenance, but now we are switching into more of an advisory role."

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