News: Airman's 60K contribution
Story by Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson
SOUTHWEST ASIA - As the United States and our coalition partners continue reducing our footprint in Afghanistan, one airman at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing is helping to remove the logistical footprint even faster by training the contractors responsible for the Afghanistan retrograde.
"This 60K training is designed to teach the students how to operate the vehicle, inspect the vehicle and reconfigure the vehicle for air transport," said Senior Airman Michael Dekle, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.
Dekle is leading an accelerated Tunner 60K loader class comprised of 386th ELRS airman and contractors deployed to the wing from various forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
"Here it's an eight day, 10 hours a day class, but back at home station it's a 10 day, eight hours a day class," he said.
Brent Chapman, one of the contractors deployed from FOB Sharana was excited to return to the 60K driver's seat after a 10 year hiatus.
"I retired out of the aerial port at Dover in 2007," Chapman said. "I worked back at the squadron as a civilian for four years but budget cuts and things happened and hence here I am."
Chapman recognizes the importance of the training provided by Dekle and he conveyed why his company sent him here.
"In Afghanistan the smaller FOBs are closing down, so what they are doing is training the people they want to pull back to the larger bases," Chapman said. "By being able to get our people qualified on this vehicle, it allows us to move larger pieces of cargo onto the aircraft to help redeploy the Army's or any of the other branches equipment."
The 60K training provided by Dekle increased the job knowledge and proficiency of the ELRS airman, and it also increased the marketability of the contractors who acknowledged the 2014 withdrawal is coming sooner than expected.
"We know it's not going to last forever, so I'm going to pay some bills off and put some money in the bank," Chapman said.
Dekle had no idea as to the extent of his training's strategic importance to the Afghanistan retrograde, he was simply content sharing his knowledge with the class.
"I feel like this is a mutual growing process and I'm just here to guide them along the way," Dekle said. "The 60K is the bread and butter of cargo movement and having the 60K on your license is one of those things everyone should have that works in this career field."