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AAF graduates 22 fixed-wing pilots including two females

The Afghan Air Force’s newest pilots hold up their certificates in celebration after having graduated from Initial Entry Fixed-Wing school at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The graduates will return to Afghanistan this week to either continue their training on one of the AAF platforms there, or to prepare to continue training in the U.S.

Afghanistan’s most recently graduated fixed wing students congratulate each other after a graduation ceremony in their honor at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The training lasted for approximately 15 months and required the students to demonstrate proficiency in ground, flight and English skills.

Graduates from Initial Entry Fixed-Wing school pose for a picture with their certificates at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The Afghan Air Force now has 22 more qualified pilots, including two females, who will soon be returning to their country to continue their training on one of the AAF fixed wing platforms.

The Afghan Air Force’s newest pilots celebrate by dancing after just having graduated Initial Entry Fixed-Wing school at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The 15-month course required the students to demonstrate ground, flight and English proficiency, and qualifies the graduates for a commercial pilot’s license.

Brig. Gen. Joel Carey, Train Advise Assist Command-Air commander, addresses the most recent class of Afghan Air Force fixed wing pilots at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. Twenty-two students graduated including this school houses first two females.

Afghanistan’s most recently graduated fixed wing students stand waiting to congratulate each other after having received their course completion certificates at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The 22 pilots will continue their training on their assigned aircraft either in Afghanistan or in the U.S.

Afghan Air Force student’s graduating from Initial Entry Fixed-Wing school converse before a ceremony in their honor at LOM Praha’s flight training center, Czech Republic, June 27, 2018. The class of 22 students included two females who were the school houses first female graduates and who will go on to be two of only three AAF female pilots.

PARDUBICE, Czech Republic -- Twenty-two students graduated from Initial Entry Fixed-Wing (IEFW) school, including two women pilots, at a ceremony in Pardubice, Czech Republic, June 27. 

 

During the ceremony, the graduates were congratulated by the guest speakers for their tremendous accomplishments throughout the 15-month course.

 

"You have much to celebrate, much to be proud of,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Joel Carey, Train, Advise, and Assist Command-Air commander. "You are entering an Air Force at an exciting time in its history where you will be a key contributor to the future security for the people of Afghanistan. Congratulations to all of you.”

 

Before receiving their certificates, the graduating students were addressed by Afghan Air Force 2nd Lt Mohammad Arash, student class leader, who shared his feelings about the graduating pilots, his peers.

 

"You made it, we all made it,” said Arash. "We accomplished one of the biggest milestones of our lives. We worked hard to get to this place and our work did not go to waste.”

 

"We will keep pushing because we know we can achieve our dreams,” he added.

 

While all the students had to work hard and demonstrate proficiency in order to graduate, the two female graduates had additional obstacles they had to overcome.

 

"We had no experience driving cars or motorcycles, so it was kind of unnerving,” said Afghan Air Force 2nd Lt. Omari, a graduate. "But as we got used to it, it became easy.”

 

"It’s awesome, just unbelievable,” added Omari. "Since childhood we were wishing to be pilots, and now the day has come that I will get my wings.”

 

The graduating women are part of an initiative to recruit more women into the Afghan National Army. The NATO-led Resolute Support gender integration advisors throughout the Train, Advise, and Assist Commands are helping to ensure that there are programs in place to help women feel welcome.

 

Omari, and 2nd Lt. Salahshor, her fellow female graduate, hope to be in inspirations to other young women who may want to pursue career fields that are typically dominated by men.

 

"I just want to say not only to girls in Afghanistan, but to girls all over the world, that whatever challenges you might face, it doesn’t matter,” said Salahshor. "[You] should keep going, you should fight for your rights and you should follow your dreams. I am sure that one day you will find yourself in the place that you really wanted to be.”

 

The Czech Republic is one of four locations including the United Arab Emirates, United States and Afghanistan where the Afghan Air Force training is being held.

 

Established in 2015, Resolute Support (RS) is a NATO-led, non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan’s security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.  Its purpose is to help the Afghan security forces and institutions develop the capacity to defend Afghanistan and protect its citizens in a sustainable manner.