News: Building the Integration Bridge
Story by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young
KABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- More than 180 coalition military service members, Ministry of Defense and Afghanistan military key leaders assembled for the first-ever Afghanistan Air Force air-to-ground integration conference here May 17, 2014.
The key leaders discussed several topics including mission planning, decision-making, communication between air and ground, training methods and experiences. The self-sustaining military body continues to evolve with the Afghan Air Force and Afghan National Army.
Timely and accurate decisions can save lives on the battle field in most cases.
Air advisers of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing were also on hand to support the team-building event. Many of them have provided strategic plans for the development of AAF medical and logistic processes and improvements.
The conference provided a forum for ANA key leaders to voice any issues and also positive outlooks on training and future missions.
“The Afghan Air Force is doing a great job with their capabilities, said U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Levy, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, director of operations, NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan. “We continue to advise them as they mature in their abilities to provide casualty evacuation, human remains transfer, transporting of goods and aerial fires.”
The next step for the AAF is to integrate the aerial fires capability with the ANA, as they do maneuvers on the ground. An integral part of this program includes the placement of Afghan liaison officers and Afghan tactical air coordinators into the core battalions of the ANA. The idea is embed AAF with ANA during missions to produce better results as a team, said Levy.
Since 2013, the improvement of the AAF communications between grown and air assets has enabled growth, savings thousands of patients during casualty evacuation missions. The solutions of the discussion will increase mission effectiveness and improve the timeliness of saving lives on the battle field significantly.
To help build communication skills and teamwork, U.S. Air Force air advisers have created a class to teach the AAF and ANA how to create an 8-line, which provides a detailed intelligence report to pilots flying in support of ground personnel. The first Afghan Tactical Air Coordinator (ATAC) class is projected to graduate in May 2014. These troops will possess the knowledge and technique to call in air support while on the ground doing their mission.
An ATAC assists the engagement of enemy forces utilizing advanced technologies and weapon systems to coordinate airstrikes in close proximity of friendly forces.
During the year, several conferences are scheduled that will focus on personnel, logistics and direction.
Looking ahead, the AAF will have to knowledge to train those ANA soldiers that don’t have the training and improve their overall battle field capabilities tremendously.
The AAF personnel operating in Afghanistan today are leaps and bounds ahead of initial expectations.