by Gloria Kwizera
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs
10/10/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The
37th Training Wing, will make history by setting the training
foundation for 90 Afghan maintainers in a first-of-its-kind training at
the 318th Training Squadron Inter-American Air Forces Academy.
"Our specialty at IAAFA is providing maintenance training in Spanish to
our Latin America partner nations," said Lt. Col William S. Latimer,
318th TRS commander. "That's our day in, day out bread and butter job
and we have 71 years of practice doing just that job.
"What makes this unique is that for the first time ever we will apply
our maintenance expertise to Afghan maintenance professionals."
The Air Force recently completed an environmental analysis and
determined that stateside training is the most feasible option to
deliver capability to the Afghan air force in the A-29 Light Air Support
A small, light aircraft, the A-29 is a multi-role, fixed wing, turboprop
aircraft designed to operate in high-temperature conditions in
extremely rugged terrain.
The need for the A-29 comes as the current Afghan air force LAS
aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter, reaches the end of its service
life in January 2016.
"This is very important because not only is the A-29 a remarkable
aircraft that meets a number of Afghan air force needs, it is also
widely used in Latin America. A number of our partner nations currently
use the A-29 or are interested in moving to the A-29," Latimer said.
"This allows IAAFA and the 318th TRS to better serve our Latin American
partners because although we are now teaching Afghans on the A-29, we
are teaching a platform and a program that is related to what a lot of
our Latin American already use or are moving towards. The Afghan A-29
initiative will provide a critical common point of reference between the
U.S. and our Latin American partners."
To ensure the Afghan air force receives the support and training needed
to safely and effectively deploy the A-29 aircraft, the 37th TRW will
pass on some of this expertise as the "Gateway to the Air Force" to help
the Afghanistan government continue to build the foundation of its air
"This training foundation will be the first time this has ever been
accomplished and it sets the stage for successful deployment in the
future, not just for the follow on training but far into the future of
the Afghan air force and the government of Afghanistan," explained
This is a one time U.S. government initiative that will help posture the
Afghan air force for success in the future as the U.S. transitions out
"This will be a monumental improvement in Afghanistan; it represents a
great bi-lateral effort between the United States government and the
government of Afghanistan," shared Latimer.
The first cadre of Afghan maintenance personnel is expected to arrive at
Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for English training at the Defense
Language Institute in mid-October and will start maintenance training in
February 2015 at the 318th TRS.
Pilot training for 30 Afghan air force pilots on the A-29 will take
place at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The first of the 20 planes to be used
for training arrived there on Sept. 26.
After the stateside temporary training, all 20 of the A-29 aircraft used for training will be donated to the Afghan air force.
"I am exceptionally proud of the diligent work that our members have put
in during the last six months to prepare for this A-29 initiative,"
said Latimer. "I know this will be a win for not just for Afghanistan
and U.S. but our Latin American partners as well. It has a positive
impact all over the world."