News: Head of the class: Afghan soldier returns to teach at academy
Story by Spc. Monica K. Smith
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The room filled with smiles and applause as five Afghan National Army Air Corps crew chiefs and two flight medics walked to the front of the room to receive their certificate for graduating the Afghan National Security Forces Crew Chief Academy here June 24.
Clapping along with the group was Mohammad Maqool who previously graduated from the academy and returned to teach his fellow countrymen.
“The idea came from my commander and I wanted to help my country,” said Maqool. “In this class, I worked together with the other instructors and explained all the things for the new guys. I had a good time with them. I want to help develop my country, and I’m so happy that my country is improving and developing.”
The seven graduates were part of the third class to go through the academy. The academy is one of a series of academies within the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon Combined Action Program, which includes the Afghan National Security Forces Air Assault Academy, Flight Medic Academy and Close Combat Attack Academy. This is the first time a former student has been certified to return and help teach the class.
Maqool is one of two prior students who has been to the U.S. to attend the Mi-17 course at Fort Bliss, Texas, said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Wood, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Lancaster, Pa. “It’s important [to have him instruct] because the ultimate goal is to turn this over to the air corps and this helps them teach their own.”
Maqool assisted U.S. Army Sgt. Lance Grubb, a crew chief with Company A, Task Force Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Baton Rouge, La., as an instructor during the 18-day academy.
“He knows more about the Mi-17s and can explain the limitations of the Mi-17s and can also explain the things they do different from what we do,” said Grubb. Having prior students come back to instruct puts the Afghans in the mindset of teaching the classes themselves, which is faster and more efficient.
The academy included instruction on the responsibilities of crew chiefs such as how to make calls during flight, how to secure passengers and cargo, and how to ensure the safety of the aircraft.
One of the goals of the TF Falcon Combined Action Program is to provide structure, training and mentorship to the Afghan National Security Forces. From there, the ANSF can increase their combat effectiveness and enable combined action and independent capabilities for the security and stability of the Afghan people, said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Hinkle, TF Falcon Combined Action Program manager with HHC, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Portersville, Pa.
“Eventually we want them to take the lead in providing security and stability to the Afghan people,” said Hinkle. “We’re developing their instructors with the goal of transferring all the academies over to them.”
The ceremony included words from Wood and showcased images from throughout the course. The 3rd CAB, TF Falcon deputy commander, U.S. Army Maj. Brian Schaap, also gave a speech during the ceremony. He commented on the importance of the two units working together.
“When we launched the crew chief academy, we knew that if we continued to work together, we would be a team that is ready to face any foe, defeat any enemy and accomplish any mission,” said Schaap, from Salem, Ore. “After once again having the incredible opportunity to witness firsthand our soldiers and our nations working together, we can be confident that we will achieve that goal.”