KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - As Afghan National Security Forces begin to take the lead in providing security for the people of their country, coalition forces have moved towards more of a mentoring role when conducting joint combat missions. In Regional Command-South, the Kandahar Air Wing has begun to take its first steps towards conducting operations on their own.
On Feb. 21, the Kandahar Air Wing executed its first air assault operation in the Kandahar Province to disrupt and counter Taliban efforts.
“This was the first joint air assault the KAW planned and conducted,” said Capt. Douglas Kinkennon, A Company Commander, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. “During the mission, the Kandahar Air Wing demonstrated proficiency with their aircraft. They reacted well to some unexpected landing conditions.”
For the air assault, the 25th CAB provided its vast experience in the mission planning to the Afghan Air Wing.
Part of the experience included providing two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters for reconnaissance and security.
“The Kiowas helped provide the KAW air crews to factor in air-to-air communication to confirm the landing zone location and status,” said Maj. Judah Lyons, S3 Plans, 25th CAB.
After the mission was complete, the aircrews returned to Kandahar Airfield to conduct an After Action Review. According to Lt. Col. Atuallah, Squadron Commander, KAW, he was very pleased with the performance of his pilots during the planning, briefings, rehearsals, and success of the mission.
Mission success comes from detailed planning, alternate ideas if the original cannot be carried out for any reason, and training in all aspects of the operation.
An important aspect of training deals with the knowledge of proper procedures for entering and exiting an aircraft.
The Afghan Air Wing conducted static load training with 1st Brigade, 205th Corps, and Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers prior to executing the mission. During the training, ANA soldiers were trained in the loading and unloading procedures of the Mi-17 aircraft with 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division soldiers.
While soldiers were completing the training, the pilots made their final preparations for training passes and the final mission.
“All the elements involved were well prepared for the mission,” said Lyons. “Their confidence and ability to react to unexpected variables contributed to the success of the operation.”
Throughout the whole training and planning phases, the 1-205th and Afghan Air Wing demonstrated their flexibility and determination to increase the security of their country.
The mission built upon the skills from previous training to get experience for future operations. It also built up moral, confidence, and established good rapport between the 1-205th, Kandahar Air Wing, and coalition forces.
According to Lyons, all units left the training with the highest confidence that all soldiers were properly trained flying in the Mi-17 helicopter and coordination with multiple aircraft from different countries executing a combined air assault operation.
“I am proud to see the Kandahar Air Wing and 1-205th Corps planning and executing missions for their country,” said Kinkennon. “It shows that Afghanistan’s armed forces can stand up for their government without us someday.”