News: 601st 'Guardians' assist Kandahar Air Wing partners
Story by Capt. Andrew Cochran
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Soldiers of the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, trained the airmen of Kandahar Air Wing, Afghan Air Force, in ground vehicle maintenance techniques Feb. 5, 2014.
“The training was a part of the partnership between the Kandahar Air Wing and the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Richard Martin, 601st ASB commander. “The goal is to assist the air wing with skills geared towards eventual self-sufficiency in providing for their own ground maintenance.”
“The U.S. Air Force advisers handle just about everything the KAW needs aviation wise, and has for some time,” Martin said. “What the KAW needs is now is further assistance with the ground piece of aviation operations, and that is what my soldiers can do. We have a bit more capability than the Air Force advisors, and we are just trying to help them better assist the KAW.”
The weekly training started Jan. 27, and the 601st ASB soldiers used a Humvee as the test vehicle for the training. Beginning with a refresher in preventative maintenance checks and services, it transitioned to electrical and hydraulic systems on a Humvee and 10,000-pound forklift.
“We started teaching them the basics of troubleshooting and tracking down a fault,” said Sgt. Jose Ortiz Rivera, a wheeled vehicle repairer and training instructor. “Most of the vehicles these airmen are used to working on have a light to tell them where to start. A Humvee does not have trouble lights, so basic troubleshooting skills are key.”
Making the most of the training, the Afghan airmen paid close attention to the instructors and impressed Rivera with how quickly they found a fault, particularly in the electrical systems.
“We just taught them these skills this morning,” said Rivera. “When we create a fault on the Humvee to test their learning, these airmen troubleshoot and find the fault in ten minutes.”
I would like to work with them fixing vehicles all the time, finished Rivera.
“The airmen of the Kandahar Air Wing are incredibly mechanically minded,” said Capt. Anthony Prose, 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group and head of the local U.S. Air Force liaison team. “They can do things I find hard to imagine, and they just need time to learn what they don’t already know.”
Prior to the vehicle maintenance training, a weapons training session was held at the KAW compound. The training taught Afghan airmen how to completely tear apart, reassemble, and fix common faults on the M16 rifle, the M9 pistol, and the M240B and M249 machine gun at the armorer level.
The 601st Aviation Support Battalion plans on hosting future training sessions with the Afghan Air Force.
“I look forward to continuing this partnership,” said Martin. “This is what we are all here to do; help the Afghans with their independent security, governance and stability.”