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When it comes to all successful military operations, precise execution is the name of the game, which is the key point being taught in a new air assault course being taught at the Afghan National Army Air Corps base in Kabul. The new course is designed to create fully qualified and capable air crews with the ability to conduct air assault missions designed to accurately insert and retrieve grounds forces from an unprepared landing zone, on a specific time table, as well as plan for any number of contingencies. The precise conditions all air crews face when conducting air assault operations into potential hostile areas.
Even though the focus of the training is to be able to conduct air assaults, the applications of the skills learned have a much wider benefit to the overall capabilities of the Air Corps.
"The Afghans are expected to use these skills to increase the safety and professionalism in all of their flying operations. It will also expand their capabilities to do some medical and casualty evacuation missions, humanitarian assistance missions as well as direct action missions" explains Lt. Col. Curtis Wichers, United States Air Force, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, Combined Air Power Transition Force. Wichers is one of the American mentors in charge of the program at the Air Corps base.
The class has a schedule of six weeks of high intensity training. The first week finds the students in the class room reviewing the academics, and with computer illiteracy and the challenges of learning in English a constant obstacle, the academics can be daunting. Even with these obstacles the students are enthusiastic and conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and motivation; they are some of the best that the Air Corps has to offer. The class will constantly review academics throughout the course but starting in week two and continued through the rest of training they move to simulator and real aircraft flying. For most, this significant level of training would be enough, but the Air Corps doesn't have the luxury of a peace time build up.
"The Afghans have been challenged with creating an advanced level training program using a significant number of their crew members and aircraft while still continuing to conduct a high level of real world operations" tells Wichers.
The current class has four pilots, two flight engineers, and five crew chiefs as students and the goal is to create two fully functional air assault capable crews. The current projection for the graduation of this class is March 18th with the addition of two more classes being held later in the spring.