Afghan air commander seeks USAF help reconstituting air corps Published July 13, 2007 By Capt. Ken Hall 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Afghan Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dawran visited here July 11 to view applications of the Air Education and Training Command training model and get a first-hand glimpse of the student-training environment that produces the world's best combat pilots. The 55-year-old, cosmonaut-trained MiG pilot commands the Afghanistan National Army Air Corps. Ravaged by nearly three decades of strife including Soviet occupation, a bloody civil war, Taliban oppression and al Qaeda terror, Afghanistan is seeking help in building long-term, self-sustainable capabilities. "Air power is critical to security and stability of the nation of Afghanistan," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Frank Padilla, commanding general of the Combined Air Power Transition Force in Afghanistan. He explained the CAPTF is working with the Afghanistan Government to help them develop an Air Corps that will enhance force projection for the Afghan National Army and provide the ministries of the Afghan government the ability to rapidly respond to humanitarian relief and other development efforts to better serve the people of Afghanistan. Through a small, yet effective, training corps to mentor Afghan airmen, the U.S. Air Force is helping create forces that can assume and perform missions it currently conducts, enabling its withdrawal. Over approximately the next five years, Airmen will help Afghanistan develop the skill sets necessary to sustain operations, maintenance, logistics and intelligence. The Kabul-headquartered CAPTF is coordinating these training efforts in Afghanistan which fall under U.S. Central Command and are sourced by U.S. Central Command Air Forces. As a result, Afghanistan will ultimately be able to provide for its own counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, internal air defense, border and oil-pipeline security, and improve potential for its long-term development. During their visit to Laughlin, General Dawran and senior CAPTF members toured operations and aircraft maintenance facilities including the wing's corrosion control and engine repair facilities, radar approach and control, the life support section, and flight simulators. The delegation's overall U.S. visit includes briefings and tours at Randolph, Lackland and Laughlin AFBs in Texas, Andrews AFB, Md., and Fort Eustis, Va. "This was an extremely important visit," said Col. Mike Minahan, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. "It allowed General Dawran to take back the information and tools necessary to understand how U.S. and coalition forces will help Afghanistan establish its air corps." Colonel Minahan said General Dawran's visit goes hand-in-hand with U.S. Air Force efforts in assisting Afghanistan in developing training facilities, getting equipment and sending additional Air Force mentors to help train our partners in the region. Plans are underway for a flying training school at Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan and a mobility hub and English language training center at Kabul. "The bottom line," Colonel Minahan said, "is that this sharing of information is a stepping stone for our Airmen to help build a strong self-defense capability in Afghanistan and the foundation for internal and regional stability which will ultimately bring more Airmen home." For Airmen, deployment for this training mission is a chance to make a real difference in the fight against terrorism and the lives of the people of Afghanistan. It's also a career-enhancing opportunity for deploying Airmen to help build a strong self-defense capability in Afghanistan and the foundation for internal and regional stability which will ultimately bring more Airmen home. AETC is developing curriculum for comprehensive pre-deployment training for Airmen and a curriculum for comprehensive in-country training for the host nation's air force personnel. The training effort will mean Airmen in the operations and maintenance fields deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq for training will increase to more than 500 by July 2008. Training aircrews will require a sustained effort, and by sharing technology, Western training methodology and Airmen core values, the Air Force is establishing long-term partnerships with the people and future leaders of Afghanistan. The Air Force will also provide equipment paid for by U.S.-appropriated Security Forces Funding for Afghanistan. In order to engage in the mission, the Air Force is expanding pre-deployment training to prepare those Airmen who will provide the training in Afghanistan for host-nation pilots and aviation maintenance personnel. Although there is still much to do, the success of U.S./Coalition military support in Afghanistan have made it politically, militarily and economically feasible for the Air Force to step up its efforts to train and mentor pilots in Afghanistan. Airmen supporting this effort will have a unique opportunity to help build Afghanistan's air force from the ground up, and to see the direct impact their efforts have on the lives of their Afghan colleagues daily. Concluding his delegation's visit with a short question and answer session with local media, General Dawran said the way pilots are trained at Laughlin was most interesting to him. "I want to have a similar program in my country for the Afghanistan National Army Air Corps." The general also noted he would absolutely like to see select Afghan student pilots train in the United States. Most important, he wants to create the capability in his Air Corps to protect and benefit the country of Afghanistan and its people.