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Face of Defense: Deployed Engineer Helps Afghanistan’s Air Corps

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 13, 2009 – For nearly a year, Air Force Maj. Kevin Mantovani, Combined Air Power Transition Force engineering director, has provided the Afghan National Army Air Corps with the best engineering advice the Air Force has to offer.

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Air Force Maj. Kevin Mantovani, left, Combined Air Power Transition Force engineering director, an Afghan air corps maintenance soldier, center, and Air Force Maj. John Beurer, Combined Air Power Transition Force team member, right, pose for a photo before boarding an Afghan Mi-17. Courtesy photo
  

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For this and his many accomplishments at his home duty station, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., he was awarded the Maj. Gen. L. Dean Fox Award, recognizing him as the outstanding senior military civil engineer manager for the Air Force.

At McGuire, Mantovani is operations director for the 818th Global Mobility Readiness Squadron, one of two squadrons in a contingency response group, a team that builds air bases. There, he said, he gained a great deal of experience by providing the Air Force with airfield surveys and contingency training with the contingency response group.

“A lot of their mission is unique, and I think that’s what helps my work package stand out,” he said. “Building a foreign military is similar to what contingency response does.”

Mantovani was assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan in February. Servicemembers at the command train, advise, equip and mentor Afghanistan’s security forces. He is currently assigned to the Combined Air Power Transition Force and the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing.

“My job in CAPTF, as the engineering director, is to develop and plan all the infrastructure for the Afghan National Army Air Corps,” Mantovani said. “When the award board sat down as a group and read the kind of things that I did here -- which is what all of us at CAPTF are doing -- it seems very historical to be building an air force from the ground up.”

The transition force trains, mentors and equips the Afghan National Army Air Corps to provide numerous services, including presidential airlift, battlefield mobility and airborne command and control.

“Being recognized as an engineer for the work we’re doing in CAPTF just gives great credit to the CSTC-A and CAPTF mission and how important it is to develop the Afghan National Security Forces,” said Mantovani. “It’s exciting that I can take what I’ve learned here and continue to contribute.”

The assignment has been the highlight of his career, the major said. “I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to do this level of work again,” he added.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Maj. Kevin Mantovani, left, Combined Air Power Transition Force engineering director, and a security contractor assess construction progress at Shindand Airfield, Afghanistan, from the air traffic control tower. Courtesy photo  
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