Showing posts with label TAAC-Air. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TAAC-Air. Show all posts

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Update on Air Operations in Afghanistan (Feb 11, 2018)

A-29 Super Tucano

'Operators' Graduate from ATAC. Special Operators with the Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps and General Command Special Police Units graduated from the ATAC Course at the ANASOC School of Excellence on Feb 1, 2018. Some of the graduates will move on to the ANASOC Air Targeting Officer's  Course to learn how to prepare A-29 fixed-wing and MD-530 light-attack helicopter strike packages. Read more in "Afghan Tactical Air Controllers bring more firepower to the battlefield"NSOCC-A / DVIDS, February 1, 2018.

Afghanistan now the Main Effort. Read more about combat and intelligence-gathering aircraft shifting in the CENTCOM AOR. (VOA, Feb 7, 2018).

RS General Offers 'Glowing' Assessment of AAF. MG James Hecker, director of NATO Air Command - Afghanistan, held a press conference on February 7, 2018. The general is very high on the present and future capabilities of the Afghan Air Force (AAF). As usual, he provides the ever-present statement that "The Taliban cannot win on the battlefield". This, despite the fact, that the rural-based insurgency controls or contests probably 60% of the 399 districts in Afghanistan. In this RS HQs press release he says that ". . . they tried taking districts and couldn't do that either". Perhaps he should learn a little bit about how insurgencies operate and what constitutes 'district control'. Despite the cheer-leading content the RS article is a good indication on how well the AAF is progressing as increases its capacity and capability. Read "Afghanistan's Military Primed to "Cripple" Enemies, Thanks to Increased Air Capabilities", Resolute Support, February 7, 2018.

Another MOAB for Afghanistan? Could the 'Mother of All Bombs' be dropped in air opns in Afghanistan again? Could be . . . (Task & Purpose, Feb 7, 2018).

B-52 Strike on Insurgents in Badakhshan Province. A U.S. Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided bombs on insurgents close to the China and Tajikistan border. The East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is operating in the region and reportedly use some training camps also used by the Taliban. It is unknown if any ETIM fighters were actually in the training camp during the strike.. See "New U.S. air campaign expands to the north"Resolute Support, February 6, 2018. Read more about the strike on the ETIM in a DoD news release (Feb 7, 2018).

Bombing Afghan Drug Labs? Resolute Support recently applauded its success in inflicting serious financial losses on the Taliban's financial operations when it conducted an extensive bombing campaign against drug labs in Helmand province. But some observers think that RS HQs has inflated the damage done to the Taliban. US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) says that $80 million in damage was inflicted on 25 drug labs. It is an important distinction; especially when considering that some of the aircraft used include the F-22 Raptor with an operating cost of $70,000 per hour. Read more in "Doubts rise over effectiveness of bombing Afghan drug labs", Air Force Times, February 6, 2018.

Video: B-52 Strike on Helmand Province Drug Lab. Watch a video of a Stratofortress hitting a drug lab. (DVIDS, Feb 2, 2018).

A-29s and Laser-Guided Bombs. The Afghan Air Force just started to use laser-guided munitions with their new A-29 Super Tucanos. In addition, some of the C-208 aircraft will be outfitted with laser-guided rockets. How soon the AAF will be able to employ these modern munitions remains to be seen. (Khaama Press, Feb 8, 2018).

AAF is Increasing Its Capability and Capacity . . . But. A lot of news stories are coming out about how the Afghan Air Force will be a game-changer resulting in the defeat of the Taliban. This article is one more such news report. But my question is: "When is the last time air power defeated an insurgency?". Read "Why the Taliban Should Fear the Afghan Air Force", The National Interest, February 8, 2018.

SMW Instructor Pilot Talks about his Job. A pilot with the AAF's Special Mission Wing talks about his job in this short video posted on DVIDS (Jan 8, 2018).

CRU 222 and 777 SMW Training. Read about a time-sensitive target training exercise involving the Afghan Crisis Response Unit 222 and 777 Special Mission Wing in "Afghan elite hone their skills"NSOCC-A / DVIDS, February 3, 2018.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Women in Afghanistan

International Women's Day. The world recognized the annual International Women's Day this past week. All the major players provided news releases on the progress and obstacles in advancing women's rights.

CSTC-A and Women. The Combined Security Transition Command j- Afghanistan (CSTC-A) recently celebrated International Women's Day. A keynote speaker (see photo above) was Maj. Gen. Gordon "Skip" Davis, Jr. Every photo I ever see of this guy has him smiling! There is something seriously wrong here. Doesn't he know that he has three very good reasons not to be so jolly? 1) He lives and works on that small postage stamp of real estate in Kabul known as Camp Resolute Support, 2) he is in a war zone, and 3) he is tasked with training up the ANA and ANP. Hmmmm. Read more in a news press release by DVIDS, March 9, 2016.

AAF and Women. The Afghan Air Force hosted an International Women's Day conference on March 6th at the Kabul Air Wing. Approximately 200 AAF and Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) military men and women attended the event to include guest speakers from the AAF commander to a young Afghan girl reading poetry. (DVIDS, Mar 8, 2016).

Role of Afghan Women. Laura Bush (former 1st Lady) is an honorary co-chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and chair of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She has penned an opinion piece about women in Afghanistan where she explores the progress made for women in Afghanistan over the past 15 years and identifies the areas that still need further advances. Read "How Afghanistan's women are helping the country move forward", The Washington Post, March 7, 2016.

Book - We Are Afghan Women. The George W. Bush Presidential Center is publishing a book about Afghan women. The book is being released . . . timed with International Women's Day. "The book spotlights the stories of 29 inspiring and heroic Afghan women in their own voices and records their extraordinary struggles, resolve, and will to triumph in present-day Afghanistan." Read more about We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.

Former Female Afghan War Vets Import Saffron. Members of the Harvard University community who are also veterans of the Afghan conflict have been importing saffron from Afghanistan. They operate a firm called Rumi Spice. The founders of the firm are a unique group of people - male, female, route clearance, Cultural Support Team, etc. Read more in "Veterans behind Rumi Spice source saffron directly from Afghan farmers", Food Navigator, March 9, 2016.

Court Reduces Sentences in Mob Killing of Farkhunda. Four men sentenced to death for the killing of a woman named Farkhunda (which received widespread international attention) have had their sentences reduced to as little as ten years in prison. (The New York Times, Mar 9, 2016).

Short Film - Masculinity in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) conducted some research titled The Other Side of Gender Inequality: Men and Masculinities in Afghanistan. A film based on this research was filmed. It has English subtitles and is 20 minutes long, and posted on on March 9, 2016. A little bit of culture about being a man and a women in Afghan society.

IDLG Wants More Women in Govt. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance has called for a stronger presence of women in local governance across Afghanistan. (Tolo News, Mar 7, 2016).

Radio Shaesta - Back on the Air. An Afghan women's radio station was put off the air as a result of the Taliban attack and subsequent occupation of the Kunduz city this past fall. The radio station was ransacked and the broadcasting equipment was confiscated or destroyed. But . . . they are back up and running. Read "Afghan Women's Radio Returns After Taliban Attack", Voice of America, March 8, 2016.

Women Reporters in Afghanistan. There are some difficulties and cultural barriers that women journalists face when reporting from Afghanistan. Read the story of two women reporters that were in northern Afghanistan in late 2001 in "No Woman's Land: On the Frontline with Female Reporters", International News Safety Institute, March 7, 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Advising the AAF

The Resolute Support Mission is two-fold; conducting counterterrorism operations and train, advise, and assist the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF). An important part of the ANDSF is the Afghan Air Force (AAF). To do the Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA) mission with the AAF the United States (and its coalition partner nations) has air advisors working with the AAF as part of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command - Air or TAAC-Air. A recent paper provides us with a break down of the essential components of a successful air advising posture, applies it to the mission in Afghanistan, and concludes with a summary of key points and suggest areas for improvement. The authors of the paper are Lt Col Aaron Tucker of the USAF and Colonel Aimal Pacha Sayedi of the Afghan Air Force. Read Advising the Afghan Air Force, National Defense University Press, January 1, 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Afghan Air Force Update

A-29 Tucanos to Arrive. Afghanistan will be getting a COIN airframe - the A-29 Tucano - to assist in the never-ending and escalating threat posed by the insurgents. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) will soon receive 4 light attack aircraft in January 2016. The long-delayed program will be a significant boost to the AAF - which has been lacking in air support capability since the U.S. has withdraw the bulk of its Army and Air Force airframes. It took the USAF a long time to award the contract (Congress interfered as usual in addition to the USAF bureaucracy) and get the program up and running. But then . . . we have only been fighting this war since 2001. Read "Afghan Air Force expecting to receive 4 light attack aircraft in January", Khaama Press, December 22, 2015. See also "After Delays, A-29 Attack Aircraft to arrive in Afghanistan in 2016",,  December 28, 2015.

Afghan A-29 Pilots Trained - or at Least Some of Them. Eight (or nine, depending on which USAF press release you read) Afghan Air Force pilots just completed (Dec 15) almost a year's worth of training on the A-29 aircraft at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia (U.S.). There would have been two more but in the early part of December, just prior to graduation, two of the prospective pilots left base and disappeared. (Some news reports now say they were maintenance personnel). I presume they have crossed over into Canada or have found employment washing dishes in a D.C. Afghan restaurant. Along with the graduating pilots are twelve maintainers that also completed training. The crews are expected to be ready for combat operations at the beginning of the spring fighting season. More pilot training is expected to take place in the future. Read more in "First Afghan A-29 pilots, maintainers finish training", Air Force Times, December 22, 2015.

Mi 25 Attack Helicopter Arrives. India has decided to help out the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) with some counterinsurgency aircraft as well. It decided - just a few months ago in November 2015 - to provide four of the extremely effective COIN helicopters to the Afghans and one has reached Kabul already. Contrast that with the plodding of the U.S. Air Force in the A-29 program! Three more of the Mi 25's will soon arrive. The Mi-25 come equipped with machine guns, rocket and grenade launchers. Earlier in the year the Indians provided three Cheetal utility helicopters. (The Economic Times, Dec 22, 2015). For one observer, Michael Kugelman, this apparent shift by the Indian government to provide military arms speaks volumes. Read "The most important arms deal you've never heard of", War on the Rocks, December 22, 2015.

Air Power Turning the Tide? Some are heartened by the addition of more aircraft to the AAF inventory. The added capability will provide better close air support to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. I am not so sure. Afghanistan's security problems are more related to poor leadership, corruption, lack of cross-pillar coordination, and a horribly ineffective and divided government. A few additional airframes that probably won't fly much because of maintenance problems won't make that much difference. But it is a new year - let's be optimistic! Read "Air Power Could Turn Tide in Favor of Afghan Forces in 2016", Voice of America, December 31, 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

News about Afghan Air Force (AAF)

U.S. Struggles to Build AAF. Rod Nordland of the NYT details the problems the U.S. has in building the Afghan Air Force (AAF). (The New York Times, September 27, 2015).

Fluff Piece on AAF? In what appears to be press copy from a Resolute Support news release we hear a very positive report on the Afghan Air Force. Read "Afghanistan's airmen on track to assume key role in war, US advisors say", Stars and Stripes, September 26, 2015.

Negative Press on MD-530s? So what do you do when folks criticize the helicopter the U.S. is buying for the Afghan Air Force? Well - issue your own press release. Read "MD refutes Afghan MD 530F criticisms", Shepard Media, October 1, 2015.

MD-530's head to Helmand. In late September 2015 the Afghan Air Force (AAF) sent some of its helicopters to the volatile southwest of Afghanistan. The MD-530 Warrior is called "Jengi" (Dari) by the Afghans. It is used for convoy escort, aerial reconnaissance, armed over-watch, and close air support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). Read more in "MD-530 "Jengi" helicopters depart Kabul for first expeditionary operations in Helmand", Khaama Press, October 1, 2015.

Force Management. Two U.S. Air Force NCOs (MSgt's Neal Harris and Andrea Brown) assist the Afghans in developing their Tashkil requirements for 2016. Read "Force Management Airmen shape Afghan Air Force for fighting season 2016", DVIDS, October 2, 2016.

PC-12 Pilatus Surveillance Aircraft. This small aircraft is providing imagery using for supporting Afghan's special operations forces on the ground. The 17 Pilatus planes were bought by the U.S. for the Afghan army's special operations forces under a $218 million contract. Read more in "Small spy planes make big difference on Afghan battlefield"Stars and Stripes, September 26, 2015.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

AAF News

Airlift Contract for AAF. The Afghan Air Force will be supported by MAG DC Corp out of Woodbridge, Virginia. MAG DC was recently awarded a $12 million contract for airlift support for the Afghan Air Force. It has a completion date of August 2018.

Profile of USAF Chaplain Team for TAAC-Air. Learn about the chaplain team deployed to Afghanistan to support AAF advisors in "USAF chaplain team supports TAAC-Air, provides for diverse religious needs"DVIDS, August 22, 2015.

AAF and the VMTP. The Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) has advisors and contractors working to refine Afghan Air Force logistics, reduce new acquisitions and programs and create a sustainable and capable air force to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in the coming years. The Vehicle Maintenance Training Program (VMTP) is one focus area that will get the AAF to this sustainable state. Read more in "Afghan Air Force trains to develop vehicle maintenance master instructors", DVIDS, August 20,2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Afghan Air Force (AAF)

MD Cayuse Warrior Choppers now in Combat. The long awaited arrival of the Afghan Air Force's MD-520F Cayuse Warrior scout-attack helicopter on the field of battle has occurred. It appears that the helicopter has made its first foray into the fray in some rural districts south of Jalalabad. The helicopters have been armed with 50 calibre machine guns and armored protection. (Flight Global, Aug 12, 2015). Read also "Afghan Air Force to receive 5 More Attack Helicopters"The Diplomat, August 14, 2015. In addition, Khaama Press (August 13, 2015) chats on the same topic.

Afghan Visit to U.S. Air University. Two Afghan Air Force officers from Pohantoon-e-Hawayee (PeH) or the Afghan Air Academy visited the United States Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. (Where it almost gets as hot as Afghanistan!). They were escorted by a TAAC-Air senior advisor. Read more in a news release by DVIDS, August 15, 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

TAAC-Air CoC Ceremony

TAAC-Air CoC Ceremony. BG Christopher Craige has taken command of the Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) during a ceremony in Kabul on July 27, 2015. He now commands more than 600 military members and contractors including coalition partners from the United States, Greece, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Denmark. TAAC-Air trains, advises and assists the Afghan Air Force (AAF) to develop its organic operational capability. The AAF operates the Mi-17 transport helicopter, Mi-35 attack helicopter, Cessna 208B light lift aircraft, MD-530 light attack helicopter, and the C-130 medium lift aircraft. Read more in "TAAC-Air holds change of command ceremony", DVIDS, July 27, 2015.

Friday, September 19, 2014

How do Combat Aviation Advisors Train?

The current mission of the United States (and ISAF) in Afghanistan is Security Force Assistance; which primarily Train, Advise, and Assist (TAA). There are many types of advisors in Afghanistan to include members of the United States Air Force who are advising, training, and mentoring the Afghan Air Force (AAF). So what is it that ensures a good advisor is assigned to training the AAF? It starts with the proper selection of advisors. In addition, prior to deployment an advisor should receive some specialized training in instructional techniques, culture, force protection, counterinsurgency, and much more. For the air advisor to the AAF this probably occurs at the U.S. Air Force Air Advisors Academy located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

A preferred method is to have advisors already selected and assigned to units that have an advising and training mission. One such unit in the U.S. Air Force is the 919th Special Operations Wing located at Duke Field, Florida. The 919th provides Combat Aviation Advisors (CAA) as part of its Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) mission. Read about one type of training event that CAA teams undergo to become proficient as air advisors in "Combat Aviation Advisors attend large-scale Army exercise", DVIDS, September 16, 2014.