Twelve graduate AAF Mi-17 helicopter engine and body maintenance course

Twelve graduate AAF Mi-17 helicopter engine and body maintenance course 28 Mar, 11, Source: NATO Training Mission

Twelve Afghan Air Force Airmen graduated from the Mi-17 helicopter engine and body maintenance course at the Afghan Air Force Base in Kabul, Afghanistan March 26, marking just the second time AAF troops completed the training.

Split into separate one month units consisting of classroom based familiarization and practical, hands-on application, the course, totaling over 200 hours of instruction, gives students more than just a working knowledge of the Mi-17 engine and body, said Mongolian Air Force Maj. Dashdorj Tuvshinsaikhan, a NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan Mi-17 advisor, working on the course.

The graduating airmen, both officers and enlisted, completed the course even though there existed a natural language barrier – none of the in the instructors in the Mongolian led course speak Dari or Pashto, and none of the AAF Airmen speak Mongolian.

To circumvent the dilemma, students and instructors found a middle ground built upon a foreign influence: Russian.

Three of the course’s students learned Russian during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and were able to act as translators for the Soviet influenced Mongols.

The graduating class was the final group of Mi-17 students to be instructed by the initial team of Mongolian advisors working with NATC-A at the AAF Base in Kabul.

Taking time to congratulate the out-going Mongolian team, AAF Col. Abdul Shafi, the AAF maintenance group commander, said that the AAF appreciates the efforts of the Mongolian advisors and their hard work in bringing more highly qualified aircraft maintainers into the air force.

“The helicopters of the past are also the helicopters of the present and future. So that which the Mongolians have taught will continue to hold value for the Afghan Air Force,” he added.

Taking the opportunity to directly address the graduating class, Colonel Shafi asked the newly minted maintainers to respect their accomplishment.

“Don’t take your certificate lightly. It is a sign of the developing wave of professionalism and skill found among the aircraft mechanics that are so significant to the Afghan Air Force,” he said.

Lt. Col. Chogdon Boldbaatar, the NATC-A Mongolian advisor team leader, said that the Mongolians have only been able to succeed in instructing the AAF due to the support of other coalition partners and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

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