Task Force Welcomes Afghan Aviators
By Sgt. Stephanie van Geete, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 25, 2006 Afghan National Army Air Corps and Task Force Falcon leaders met March 19 in what officials are calling a first step toward building an aviation partnership.
For the initial gathering, Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat and members of his staff met Task Force Falcon commander Col. Michael Rose here.
Rose said the visit's purpose was to find ways U.S. and Afghan aviators can work together in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I think there is tremendous opportunity here for a partnership going forward," Rose said. "We want to find ways we can work together to provide aviation support to coalition forces operating throughout Afghanistan."
Barat agreed, saying, "We want to build a relationship with aviators here that will be useful and productive for future missions we do in support of U.S. forces or Afghan army forces. We can help each other assist both sides."
At less than a year old, the ANA Air Corps is still being built. Many of the pilots and crew members come from the now-defunct Afghanistan Air Force, and their fleet consists of rotary and fixed-wing Soviet aircraft.
Rose and Barat hope with their new alliance U.S. forces can help develop the Afghan aviation corps.
"One of the things we may be able to do for them is show them the way we conduct command and control of our aircraft throughout the country of Afghanistan," Rose said.
"Also, we may be able to share some of our tactics and techniques we use for our air-assault operations and management of logistics," he noted. "I think there are a lot of areas we can help them with, and probably a lot we haven't even envisioned yet."
Right now, Barat said, Afghan aviators only fly support missions.
"We operate in support of the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense and other ministries," he said. "We support the Afghan National Army by flying their supplies, we fly their casualties and sometimes, if we lose ANA soldiers, we will fly the bodies to their native towns."
Eventually, Rose said, the ANA will take control of all military operations in Afghanistan.
"This is just one step along the way to the Afghan National Army taking responsibility for the entire country and ensuring the sovereignty of their nation and the sovereignty of their own government," he explained. "Initially, I think we'll see some Afghan officers in our headquarters, and possibly by the time we leave here next year, we'll have (ANA Air Corps) aircraft flying with us and possibly even parked here at Bagram."
The leaders will continue building their relationship through monthly meetings. Next month, Rose will visit Barat at his headquarters in Kabul.
Both men said they welcome the chance to get to know their coalition counterpart.
"We are looking forward to having good ties and close relationships with these American forces, especially the aviators," Barat said.
(Army Sgt. Stephanie van Geete is assigned to Task Force Falcon Public Affairs Office.)