Since 1943, security forces airmen have toed the line of defence for U.S. Air Force bases in America and abroad, and sometimes in hostile environments.
Helping to build capability similar to that of the U.S. Air Force security forces, airmen deploy on six-month rotations to Shindand Air Base, Herat province, Afghanistan, and advise Afghan air force security forces there.
Currently a team of 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group officers and non-commissioned officers, made up of airmen from the U.S. and Italian Air Forces are guiding dozens of AAF airmen.
“We have an important job advising Afghan airmen because unlike many bases in our homelands, these guys have a constant threat of insurgent attacks here,” said Italian Air Force 1st Lieutenant Marshall (Chief Master Sgt. equivalent) Mario Grecco, ITAF Provider Team advisor.
Fellow advisor, 1st Marshall (Senior Master Sgt. equivalent) David Suligoj also advises the AAF, and is joined by American officers and NCOs.
Currently, AAF security forces have developed to the point that they already stand watch at Shindand Air Base entry control points, said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Irwin Sealy, deployed from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
Do to progress in training, the 838th AEAG has transitioned to an advisory role, where Afghans train other Afghans, accomplish real-world missions, and the coalition provides feedback.
Combined efforts of U.S. Air Force Capt. John Rose (deployed from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.), Tech. Sgt. Bryant Evans (Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.), Tech. Sgt. Garrett Knight (Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.), Sealy and the two Italian advisors resulted in a two-week base defence training curriculum.
“In the future these [Afghan air force] airmen will learn to push outside the perimeter and take defence postures,” said Rose. “Instead of being reactive to insurgents penetrating the base, they’ll keep the insurgents from ever reaching the base.”
Though coalition security forces members have executed these types of missions in real-world situations countless numbers of times, the AAF is brand new and at their infancy.
They recently gained their independence as a service and were the Afghan National Army Air Corps prior to that.
Currently Shindand is home to about 300 AAF and roughly 400 Afghan National Army soldiers, said ITAF Lt. Col. Alberto Autore, Provider Team advisor.
“We need to grow to a much larger capacity as in the future Shindand will likely support several thousand Afghan troops,” said Autore.
Thousands of troops will require support elements, and a flourishing base, said ITAF Col. Girolamo Iadicicco, Provider Team commander, who is certain the professional advice his Airmen and their U.S. Air Force counterparts provide will be the right ingredient to securing Shindand’s perimeter.
With security in place, the AAF will have a protected base to launch their MI-17 helicopters from, which means protecting their homeland, supporting ground soldiers and securing their skies.
Article by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace, Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs