News: Kandahar Air Wing, Afghan National Army conduct 2nd Led Air Assault
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – As the sun broke the horizon line in the early morning hours, soldiers from 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, Afghan National Army anxiously awaited as Mi-17 helicopters from the Kandahar Air Wing were heading their way.
When crews from the air wing arrived at the landing zone, soldiers loaded onto the helicopters and headed out to conduct an air assault operation in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 1, in order to disrupt Taliban efforts.
Although this type of operation was new to many Afghan troops, it’s becoming a more common occurrence in southern Afghanistan, and improving security for the local population.
“I feel really good about the mission we performed and how we are helping the people,” said a pilot with the Kandahar Air Wing. “Our mentors aided us in becoming more proficient in our operations so we can succeed in helping our people.”
With the success of the second independently led air assault in two weeks by the air wing and Afghan soldiers, the confidence level in planning, training and executing the mission has improved.
According to Brig. Gen. Habibi, commander of the 1-205th Corps, ANA, this air assault was a defining moment in the unit’s pursuit of conducting independent operations. By partnering with the Afghan Air Wing, the combat effectiveness of the 1-205th Corps has increased and will help facilitate their ability to conduct independent operations.
Along with the Afghan soldiers and Kandahar Air Wing, air crews from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, accompanied the Afghan forces as mentors.
“The Afghan forces have shown strides in improvement towards conducting independent operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kenley Kirkland, a pilot with 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. “Completing these missions helps build confidence allowing them to be successful in the future.”
Much like the air assault completed a week prior, air wing and Afghan soldiers conducted a rehearsal training session building their confidence and making them more familiar with the Mi-17 helicopters.
According to Maj. Justin Michel, 1-205th Operations Mentor, 1-25th SBCT, the level of coordination and planning between two Afghan organizations is clearly a win-win situation for Regional Command-South, 1-205th, and Kandahar Air Wing. The execution of this air assault mission and future operations clearly demonstrates International Security Assistance Forces’ commitment to the development of 1-205th and KAW’s capabilities.
"The mentors helped us become more proficient with the experience they have,” said a pilot from the air wing. “They are helpful in allowing us to succeed in our missions. The coalition forces will help us to obtain a strong Afghan army to conduct operations to keep the peace and prosperity in our country.”