Southern Strike IV a 'big win' for Afghan AF, ground forces
By Staff Reports, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 14, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan --
Synchronization of command and control functions, and the ability of the Afghan Air Force to contribute jointly to greater Afghan National Security Forces initiatives, were on display when members of the AAF Kandahar Air Wing delivered critical humanitarian supplies during Operation Southern Strike IV Nov. 15-18.
With Mi-17 helicopters prepared and manned by all AAF crew, more than 4,400 pounds of flour, rice, blankets and clothing were delivered to remote villages in Spin Boldak and Tak-the Pol Districts. The operation also included help from the 3rd Zone Afghan Border Police and their respective Security Forces Assistance Team, providing security for the mission.
"Fellow kandak commanders reinforced each other, as well as the Zone orchestrated ground movements and synchronized air movement," said Lt. Col. Scott Sill, an Afghan Hand and senior mentor working with SFAT 11. "This may seem like an easy task for Americans, but for the Afghans, it is a first."
Afghan pilots and aircrew from Kandahar have been working with members of the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group to enhance independent planning and execution of functions like aircraft maintenance, ground and air operations.
"As we have shown them how they can use tools that ISAF can provide, the next step is to teach [and] train them on those tools that way we can step further [back]," said Sill. "We are stepping up the Afghan's ability to do it themselves."
"Our goal is to help train and advise the [AAF air crews] so they can have an in-depth, self sustained program," said Capt. Ian Bertram, an Mi-17 advisor pilot with the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group.
Bertram said the air operation was a big win for the AAF because it shows the progression of the advisory program, and the Afghan's ability to coordinate with multiple agencies in order to execute missions.
"It was also a success for the Afghan people because they got to see the support from their own [Air Force]," the captain said.
As part of the operation, leaders from the 3rd Zone ABP and subordinate kandaks identified four target areas considered safe-havens for the Taliban. The joint KAW and 3rd Zone ABP mission, though a first, allowed the successful air transportation of ABP leaders to engage the village leaders while the kandaks secured the far-stretching routes and cleared into the villages by ground.
"With the agencies learning to work together, it will open the door for future missions like this," Bertram said.
In the latter phase of the operation, ABP leaders engaged village elders, listened to their concerns, addressed security issues and advised residents on ways to access the police for support.
The supplies delivered as a result of the operation will help sustain the village inhabitants for the winter season.