KABUL, Afghanistan, March 1, 2017 —
The German and Republic of Korea ambassadors to Afghanistan visited Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air here last week to assess the impact of their contributions to the Afghan Airforce.
German Ambassador Walter Haßmann, and Republic of Korea Ambassador Chin Ki-Hoon were presented a mission brief and given a tour of the AAF aircraft platforms by TAAC-Air and Resolute Support leadership.
The AAF has been described as the “shining star” in the war against terrorism, explained Col. Nick Gismondi, TAAC-Air deputy commander. They have conducted hundreds of operations independently from coalition forces employing new strike capabilities, an improved command and control structure, and a fixed targeting process system.
Maj. Gen. Richard G. Kaiser, commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, underlined the quick progression of the AAF.
“The Afghan Air Force has come a very long way in a very short time. It was only last year when they engaged in combat and flew their first operational mission. Today, they are demonstrating to be a more mature force with the development of an air and logistic system that allows them to engage with precision in the right missions, at the right place, and at the right time,” Kaiser said. “This is important because air power is a key capability that Taliban groups and other insurgents do not have.”
The leadership also praised the commitment and developed skills of the Afghan pilots. They are adopting a new mentality when engaging in combat missions.
“These pilots are operating under new ethos. They are assessing their targets with a different lens. Their soviet mentality has shifted. To them, success is no longer determined by the number of strikes. Instead, they come back with ammunitions if there’s a fear of civilian casualties or collateral damages,” Kaiser said. “They are making the right decisions.”
The ambassadors commended the work of the advisers and urged them to continue in their mission of developing a self-sustaining AAF. Haßmann spoke of the importance of quality personnel and retention.
The AAF has a significant airlift capability thanks to the financial contributions from the international community, with platforms of fixed and rotary wing assets such as the C-130, C-208, A-29, Mi-17 and MD-530.
To date, the Republic of Korea has contributed more than $300 million to the development of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces; and Germany has provided more than $700 million.
Specifically to AAF capability enhancements, the Republic of Korea has committed more than $27 million towards pilot and maintenance crew training for rotary and fixed wing aircraft. This has generated more than 150 pilots and a similar number of ground crew. They have also invested $5 million in facility repairs at the Afghan Air Force base here following an insurgent rocket attack on a maintenance hanger.
Germany has committed $16.6 million for ground facility enhancements at 4th Air Squadron Special Mission Wing, Mazar-e-Sharif.
“Today's visit by the ambassadors was an opportunity to showcase to the international community how their financial contributions, through the ANA Trust Fund, is having a direct impact on sustainable and effective military capability,” said Australian Lt. Col. Iain Watt, NATFO chief international engagement officer. It also demonstrated to our Afghan partners, the high level of international interest in reinforcing and supporting successful institutions.”
The visit ended with both delegations touring several airframes on display such as the A29 Light Support Aircraft, A208 Light Lift Aircraft, Mi17 Multi-role Utility Helicopter, and MD-530 Cayuse Warrior Helicopters.