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Combined Action Program transfers authority of 2 academies to Afghan forces

 

Written by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith
3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon

Regional Command East - Combined Joint Task Force - 101Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – A formation of U.S. Soldiers stood alongside a formation of Afghan soldiers during a ceremony transferring authority of two academies from U.S. to Afghan forces October 9th at Kabul International Airport.

The two academies, the Crew Chief Academy and the Air Assault Academy, were part of four academies created by the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon, designed to train, coach and advise Afghan National Security Forces.

A formation of Afghan soldiers stand next a formation of U.S. Soldiers as they salute show respect for their respective national anthems during a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 9th at Kabul International Airport. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)

A formation of Afghan soldiers stand next a formation of U.S. Soldiers as they salute show respect for their respective national anthems during a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 9th at Kabul International Airport. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)

“It is good for the U.S. to give authority of the classes to the Afghans,” said Afghan Sgt. Noor Rahman, a crew chief with the Afghan Air Force, from Kundouz, Afghanistan. “We can teach other Afghan soldiers in our own language, and that way the people will learn faster, be smarter and we can complete our [missions] successfully in Afghanistan.”

The ceremony included speeches from U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Warren Phipps, deputy commanding general (support) for the 101st Airborne Division, Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, Kabul Wing commander of the Afghan Air Force, and U.S. Army Col. Don Galli, TF Falcon commander, from Haverton, PA.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Warren Phipps (right), deputy commanding general (support) for the 101st Airborne Division, passes the Combined Action Program guidon to Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, Kabul Wing commander of the Afghan Air Force. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Warren Phipps (right), deputy commanding general (support) for the 101st Airborne Division, passes the Combined Action Program guidon to Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, Kabul Wing commander of the Afghan Air Force. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)

“Today’s transfer of authority for the Air Assault and Crew Chief Academies does not mean the end to our relationship,” said Galli. “It is too strong for that. I believe our friendship will endure because it is absolutely essential we continue to work as brothers to defeat the enemies of Afghanistan.”

Both academies had four classes each, with a combined total of 173 graduates. The Crew Chief Academy had students from both the Afghan Air Force and the first Afghan flight medics, whereas the Air Assault Academy had students from both the Afghan Air Force and the Afghan commandos.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Hinkle, from Pittsburgh, headed the program as the TF Falcon Combined Action Program manager and also served as the senior instructor of the Air Assault Academy. U.S. Army 1st. Sgt. Christopher Wood, from Lancaster, PA, served as the senior instructor for the Crew Chief Academy, however the lead instructor of the Crew Chief Academy rotated for each class.

Afghan Air Force Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, Kabul wing commander, gives a speech during a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 9th at Kabul International Airport. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)“It’s a great feeling to watch us transfer authority from U.S. leadership to Afghan leadership,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew West, crew chief with Company A, TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, from Vicksburg, MS, who also served as an instructor during one of the Crew Chief Academy classes. “That was the whole point of the training; that we would be able to train them to the point where their proficiency matched ours, and the Afghans could begin instructing their own, allowing us to leave a much smaller footprint here. It’s all about equipping the Afghan forces. This ceremony is just one step in the process.”

During the last two classes of both academies, former students returned to serve as instructors, and the academies served a dual purpose of training students and training the trainer.

Crew chiefs with the Afghan Air Force stand outside, waiting for the start of a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 9th at Kabul International Airport. During the ceremony, the authority of two academies, the Crew Chief Academy and the Air Assault Academy, was transferred from U.S. leadership to Afghan leadership. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)The end goal of the Combined Action Program is to also transfer the authority of the remaining two academies, the Flight Medic Academy to the Kabul Wing Afghan Air Force, and the Close Combat Attack Academy to the National Afghan Army Corps, however dates have not been set. Hinkle said any additional goals will be dependent on the Afghans.

“It is up to them to continue to run the academies,” said Hinkle. “We hope they will continue steady classes for each academy to continue to increase and enhance their capabilities to secure and protect their country.”


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