Afghan AF, Army, Coalition advisors team for slingload training

Pathfinder students from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, prepare equipment to be attached to the bottom of an Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Mi-17 helicopter during the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where the students were trained and certified as Pathfinders by Afghan instructors in partnership with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5th. (Photo by Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Afghan National Army members of the 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, prepare equipment to be attached to the bottom of an Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Mi-17 helicopter during the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where the students were trained and certified by Afghan instructors in partnership with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Mi-17 helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing sling loads equipment in support of the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where Afghan instructors from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade 205th Corps, partner with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012 to conduct training with Afghan aircraft. (Photo by Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Mi-17 helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing sling loads equipment in support of the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where Afghan instructors from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade 205th Corps, partner with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012 to conduct training with Afghan aircraft. (Photo by Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Afghan National Army members of the 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, attach equipment to the bottom of an Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Mi-17 helicopter during the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where the students were trained and certified as Pathfinders by Afghan instructors in partnership with U.S. Army Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (Photo by Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

Afghan National Army members of the 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, attach equipment to the bottom of an Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Mi-17 helicopter during the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where the students were trained and certified as Pathfinders by Afghan instructors in partnership with U.S. Army Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing practices sling loading equipment in support of the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy where Afghan instructors from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps in partnership with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing sling loads equipment in support of the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy where Afghan instructors from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps partner with Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 Helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing  sling loads equipment in support of training with the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where Afghan instructors from Afghan National Army 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps partner with U.S. Army Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (Photo by Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 Helicopter with the Kandahar Air Wing sling loads equipment in support of training with the 4th Lightning Strike Pathfinder Academy, where Afghan instructors from Afghan National Army 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps partner with U.S. Army Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5, 2012. (U.S. Army photo/Capt. Richard Barker, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan -- Afghan aircrew assigned to the Kandahar Air Wing teamed with Afghan National Army soldiers assigned to the 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps to conduct sling load training at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, Dec. 5. Sling load operations are the task of attaching cargo to hang from the bottom of a rotary wing aircraft.

This event marks the first time Afghan aircraft were used in support of the Afghan Army unit's training, a significant training milestone and development in joint service logistics operations in Afghan National Security Forces in southern Afghanistan. Training was overseen by the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan's 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, and the Pathfinders of U.S. Army Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

"I'm motivated that our own helicopters came here to support our training," said Sgt. Zabiullah, an infantry soldier and Pathfinder instructor with 4-205th. "I taught most of the practical portions of the class to included slings loads, rigging a container, and hand and arm signals."

From the air side, one of the Afghan Mi-17 aircrew members participating in the training event was undergoing Afghan instructor pilot certifications.

In each ANA academy, the U.S. 25th CAB has given more of the control and student training responsibility to the Afghan soldiers of the 4-205th. For this academy, two students from previous classes returned as instructors where they taught more than 75 percent of the unit's class.

"This is a positive step forward in gaining the ability to defend our own nation," said Zabiullah.

Sling load operations involve multiple phases, explained Lt. Col. Paul Lawrenz assigned to the 838th AEAG. "The added air advisor instruction gives the Afghans a complete plan for executing the sling-load operation."

The Mi-17s are also configured differently than other aircraft used previously for sling load training.

"With our aircraft such as the CH-47 Chinook and [UH-60] Black Hawk, the cargo hook is fixed on the outside of the aircraft," said Sgt. Wyndol Shurley, a team leader with the Pathfinders, 2-25 AVN, originally from Hawkinsville, Ga. "The Afghan helicopters are different, with the cargo hooks suspended on the inside of the aircraft, making it important for the Afghan Pathfinders to be familiar with them."

"I am happy to have had the experience of going through this class," said Abdolkarim, an Afghan soldier, with the 4-205th. "I will never forget the skills I learned here. I gained a lot of experience."

This was the fourth Pathfinder Academy supervised by cadre from the 25th CAB. Six soldiers graduated Dec. 7 during a ceremony attended by the Commander of Regional Command South, Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams.

Through the four Pathfinder Academies, the 2-25 Pathfinders have trained and graduated a total of 32 new Pathfinders.

For more on Afghan National Security Forces developments, visit the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan website at http://ntm-a.com/.