News: Air Force NCO conducts Afghan training
Story by Staff Sgt. Nadine Barclay
By Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
438th Air Expeditionary Wing
KABUL, Afghanistan - Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Perez, a fire protection advisor with the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, recently conducted an emergency response training exercise for Afghan air force fire protection personnel assigned to Kandahar Air Wing.
AAF students enrolled in the day-long course learned the basic fundamentals needed to become an effective emergency response force. The overall purpose of the course was geared toward ensuring the Afghan firefighters are ready and able to respond during aircraft mishaps.
"The main purpose of the training was to ensure firefighters are proficient in emergency response actions and crew member removal during aircraft incidents," said the Corpus Christi, Texas, native. "These skills are necessary as the firefighters support the KAW helicopter operations."
The course consisted of 12 AAF non-commissioned officers who learned how to function as a standard fire department capable of managing any emergency incident and served as a monthly certification requirement for the students.
The training was also supervised by an AAF interim fire chief, with the help of the advisor, who conducted an after action report where the response performance was evaluated to mimic a real-world on scene commander scenario.
The Afghan fire crews demonstrated that they were competent in reacting to Afghan Mi-17 helicopter fires and aircrew rescue techniques. The training however did have its challenges.
"Besides the obvious language barrier, the largest challenge is keeping the focus on the basics of fire fighting as they have become confident in their capabilities and are eager for more advanced training," said Perez.
The monthly training maintains the student's proficiency and certification to respond to real world incidents at Kandahar and validates that the AAF is able to function independently without assistance of U.S. Air Force fire advisors. It brings the advisors one step closer to transitioning control to the Afghans, officials said.
This training followed the students' recent completion of the basic three level firefighting certification course, which was the first home station training certified by the Minister of Defense in all Afghanistan.
"The firefighters are true professionals who have taken a focus on managing their training in house which makes my role easier," said Perez.
Perez is deployed to the 738th AEAG from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.