Afghan Kandahar Air Wing celebrates milestones of first year
October 9, 2010
- "The dreams of the Afghan people come alive when you fly," said Mater.
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The Afghan Kandahar Air Wing celebrated the achievements of their inaugural year with a flight line ceremony at Kandahar Airfield Oct. 5.
Through the efforts of the Afghan Air Force and Coalition Forces, the KAW completed more than 140 missions, flown more than 7,000 passengers and amassed a flight time total of more than 800 hours. The ceremony recognized the efforts of all involved in making the mission successful and expanding the capabilities of the Afghan military in the region.
"When we had the dedication ceremony last year it was just the Kandahar Air Wing in name only, but since then we have gained the facilities, technologies and personnel to carry out missions for Southern Afghanistan," said Maj. Gen. Dawran, Afghan Air Force chief of staff.
General Dawran stressed that the Air Force existed to serve the people of Afghanistan, and he highlighted the rescue missions that KAW took part in last year during heavy flooding in Kandahar. KAW personnel rescued 83 Afghan civilians.
In addition to providing aid to civilians, the KAW partnered effectively with the Afghan National Army and assisted them by moving personnel and cargo throughout the region. The KAW also evacuated 17 causalities for treatment.
Logistics, training and equipment have improved greatly over the course of the past year. The KAW held their first enlisted promotion board, increased the size of their helicopter fleet and created a Mi-17 helicopter maintenance inspection program that reduced the amount of wear on the aircrafts which previously had to be flow to Kabul for maintenance.
"As a NATO Air Advisor, I see how well you do your tasks," said Air Force Col. Bernard Mater, senior NATO advisor to the KAW. "I see the pride in your faces, the joy in learning something new; we have laughed, we have struggled - the long hours, the time away from our families. Like all NATO personnel, we are one team together."
Mater referenced the recent Afghan parliamentary elections in September. The KAW flew 47 hours of direct support to promote the safety and security of the election.
"Every day you wear your uniform, you are voting for Afghanistan. Each day you come to work, you are voting for the future of your children. Each day you serve, you are voting for freedom," said Mater.
He reminded the airmen that they flew not only for themselves but for all the Afghans.
"The people of Afghanistan look to the air, and they see you fly," said Mater. "The dreams of the Afghan people come alive when you fly."
Despite the great strides made by the KAW, Dawran acknowledged that the Air Force must continue to expand into more areas of the country, partner effectively with the Afghan National Army and other security forces, recruit and train quality personnel and expand educational opportunities in the country.
"We need to have a strong Air Force for the defense of the country and for the security of the Afghan people," said Dawran. "When the Coalition Forces leave our country we need to be able to do the job ourselves."