KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Feb. 28, 2012) -- As Afghan National Security Forces begin to take the lead in providing security for their people, coalition forces have moved forward into a mentoring role while conducting joint combat missions.

In Regional Command-South, the Kandahar Air Wing, or KAW, took its first steps toward conducting independent operations.

On Feb. 21, KAW executed its first air assault operation in Kandahar Province to disrupt and counter Taliban efforts.

"This was the first joint air assault the KAW planned and conducted," said Capt. Douglas Kinkennon, a 25th Combat Aviation Brigade company commander. "During the mission, the Kandahar Air Wing demonstrated proficiency with their aircraft. They reacted well to some unexpected landing conditions."

For the air assault, the 25th CAB provided its vast experience in the mission-planning to the Afghan air wing.

Part of the experience included providing two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters for reconnaissance and security.

"The Kiowas helped provide the KAW air crews to factor in air-to-air communication to confirm the landing zone location and status," said Maj. Judah Lyons, S-3 plans, 25th CAB.

After the mission was complete, the aircrews returned to Kandahar Airfield to conduct an after-action review. Lt. Col. Atuallah, KAW squadron commander, said he was very pleased with the performance of his pilots during the planning, briefings, rehearsals and the mission's results.

The Afghan air wing conducted static load training with 1st Brigade, 205th Corps and Afghan National Army soldiers prior to the mission. During the training, ANA soldiers were trained in the loading and unloading procedures of the Mi-17 aircraft with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division.

While soldiers completed their assault training and helicopter boarding techniques, the pilots made final preparations for training passes and the final mission.

"All the elements involved were well prepared for the mission," said Lyons. "Their confidence and ability to react to unexpected variables contributed to the success of the operation."

Throughout the entire training and planning phases, the 1-205th and Afghan Air Wing demonstrated their flexibility and determination to increase the security of their country, he said.

According to Lyons, all units left the training with the highest confidence that all soldiers were properly trained flying in the Mi-17 helicopter and coordination with multiple aircraft from different countries executing a combined air assault operation.

"I am proud to see the Kandahar Air Wing and 1-205th Corps planning and executing missions for their country," added Kinkennon. "It shows that Afghanistan's armed forces can stand up for their government without us someday."