(First of a four part series)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan— On the heels of the Afghan National Security Forces Crew Chief Academy’s first graduation, the ANSF Air Assault Academy opened its doors during a ceremony, March 6 at Bagram Airfield.
The five Afghan National Army Air Corps’ crew chiefs, who graduated the Crew Chief Academy, March 4, joined ANA Commandos as the first class of the Air Assault Academy.
"The Afghan Soldiers with us today are the first to volunteer for our air assault course," said Col. Don Galli, commander of 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon. "We are honored to have these brave soldiers working with us. We are also hopeful that they will be the first of many Afghan soldiers to train with us."
During the opening ceremony, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, the wing commander of the ANAAC also spoke, encouraging the inaugural class not to under appreciate the opportunity they’ve been given.
"We are proud that we have our friends here and thankful for the efforts they are doing for the peace and security of Afghanistan," said Barat during his speech. "Everyone should be on time and disciplined so that our friends here know that their efforts they have done here are not wasted [and so we] show that the Afghan soldiers have the ability to execute [missions] in the future."
The Air Assault Academy is the second of two academies within the TF Falcon Combined Action Program, the other being the ANSF Crew Chief Academy. For the second time, the ANAAC crew chiefs will be part of an inaugural class, this time, taking the skills they learned from the Crew Chief Academy and applying it to flying air assault missions.
"First I want to say that I am glad that I am here," said Asif Malikgada, one of the five ANAAC crew chiefs. "In the first crew chief course we learned a lot of things. Second, it’s a great opportunity to get to work shoulder to shoulder with [U.S. Soldiers] because they are serving Afghanistan, the same as us and I’m glad to work with them."
The 22 ANA Commandos, along with the crew chiefs, will participate in two weeks of classes where they will be taught subjects such as map reading and how to conduct air assault briefs.
"We’re starting from the very bottom," said Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Braund, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, and one of the instructors of the academy. "We want them to get into the mindset of getting from point A to point B at a certain time and we’ll have to break that down. We’ll teach them to find out what the ground commander wants and how to employ aviation assets to support that request."