Transition Command Helps to Build Afghan Air Corps
American Forces Press Service
The following is from a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news
KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2008 The Afghan
National Army Air Corps has received the first three
of six Mil Mi-35 attack helicopters, adding to its
The helicopters, donated by the Czech Republic,
were refurbished by members of Combined Security
Transition Command Afghanistan.
The Afghan air corps provides trained and ready
airmen and soldiers to execute critical air support to
the Afghan National Army. When directed by the Afghan
Defense Ministry, the corps also supports Afghan civil
authorities at all levels.
"Air power is extremely important in this
operational environment that we are in right now,
said Air Force Col. Dan Miller, vice commander of the
Combined Air Power Transition Force and the 438th Air
Expeditionary Wing. "It makes sense because of these
rocky mountains, the lack of good roads or railroads,
the forbidding terrain that covers much of the country
and the threat of [improvised explosive devices], that
you should fly."
Ten months ago, NATO allies flew 90 percent of the
missions in support of the Afghans. Today, Afghans fly
90 percent of their own missions as a result of air
The Combined Air Power Transition Force, in
coordination with the Afghan Defense Ministry and the
air corps, is helping to build the Afghan air corps by
recertifying trained Afghan pilots and using
refurbished Soviet aircraft that are familiar
platforms to Afghan pilots and crews, officials said.
"Right now, the ANAAC has 34 planes. Back in 2007,
when we stood up, there were only 13," Miller said.
"This task force is to build this air corps up, and we
have a campaign plan that takes us out until 2016.
We're building air power, organizing training
equipment, simultaneously building their command and
control, and we're also building bases, infrastructure
and simple things we take for granted in our military.
We are doing this simultaneously while this war is
going on so we can walk away knowing they are fully
independent and operationally capable, he continued.
With more than 300 pilots of fixed- and rotary-wing
aircraft, the corps has contributed to the fight,
setting records this summer with more than 220,000
pounds of cargo and nearly 10,000 personnel
transported, officials said. In the next seven years,
Combined Air Power Transition Force officials plan to
strengthen the air corps from 2,000 personnel to more
than 7,000, teaching and training them to counter
insurgencies and putting the Afghans in the lead.
The corps will receive 61 Mi-17V5 helicopters in
the future, Miller said, adding that the V5 model is
able to haul more troops and cargo, and air corps
pilots already know how to fly the aircraft.
Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan
servicemembers also train maintenance personnel, with
more than 300 students trained to date, officials
said. After 16 weeks of training at the Kabul Military
Training Center, they attend the Kabul Air Corp
Training Center, an aviation branch school for the air
corps. They train in basic air corps orientation and
development of specific skill sets.
"Although the effort started rather late, it's very
gratifying to see the efforts of CSTC-A and CAPTF
featured in the growing capability of the ANAAC," Air
Force Brig. Gen. Joshua Givhan, commander of the 438th
Air Expeditionary Wing, said. "It's a Phoenix risen
from the ashes."
That Phoenix soon will support the entire Afghan
theater, Miller noted.
"The Kabul Air Wing will eventually house
approximately 3,500 personnel, and the Kandahar Air
Wing will house nearly 2,500 when the ANAAC matures to
its 7,000 strong," Miller said. "And then there will
be a mix of three regional support squadrons and two
detachments, which will support all of Afghanistan."