SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Providing high-quality training for international partners is something Sheppard AFB is known for.
In fact, instructing Airmen from other countries has been happening here since the late 1940s when the base was reactivated and later became a permanent installation. More than 650 international students had graduated from Sheppard programs by May 31, 1952, under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949.
That spirit of international partnership is on display again at Sheppard as the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, trains maintainers from the Chadian and Nigerien air forces. The three-week venture will see Air Force instructors provide training on intermediate to advanced level C-130E/H maintenance practices.
In all, five Nigerien maintainers and four from Chad are participating in the training.
Maj. Zachary Mangrich, 818th MSAS assistant director of operations, said Sheppard was chosen as the site for the joint training because of the “world-class maintenance training environment” already in place. Bringing the training opportunity to North Texas has been successful, he said, because of several players, specifically the International Military Student Office, the 361st Training Squadron and the 362nd TRS.
The lessons are conducted similarly to aircraft maintenance Airmen trained daily at Sheppard through a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on experience.
Tech. Sgt. Dan Karnosky, a C-130 crew chief by trade and now a member of the 818th MSAS, said the instructor team will help the international students become more familiar with legacy and advanced C-130 airframes. A second function, he said, is to foster relationships with the African partners.
“The communication between the countries, I think, is important to combat terrorism, to make them and us better at our job,” he said. “I think the only way to do that is to engage in this type of training environment, whether it’s in Africa or here at Sheppard Air Force Base. Without it, I think it would be very difficult to continue the positive outlook that we’re hoping to achieve.”
Karnosky said the MSAS is a unique squadron with a unique mission that requires multiple Air Force specialties working toward a common goal. That, he said, is to help, assist, train and improve the capabilities of international partners.
Niger air force 2nd Lt. Adamou N’Doli Ibrahim, a seven-year veteran, said his specialty is in general avionics. He said he is familiar with the Cessna 208 aircraft, but he wanted to learn about the C-130, an aircraft he hasn’t had the opportunity to work on.
“The Cessna is a small aircraft. It’s not like the C-130 because this aircraft is a big aircraft,” he said. “It’s more complicated, I can say. More systems.”
1st Lt. Emmanuel Madang, a seven-year veteran of the Chadian air force, said he has experience working on the C-130 and the C-27J, a military transport similar to the C-130. He said by receiving instruction from the MSAS, he will learn more about the aircraft his air force uses.
The importance of this joint training, he said, further strengthens the relationships built between the U.S. and Chadian air force maintainers and flying communities.
Ibrahim and Madang both said the training they’ve received at Sheppard is something they will be
Tech. Sgt. Richard Murdock, a C-130 crew chief systems instructor with the 372nd TRS’s Detachment 11 at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, who is augmenting the 818th MSAS, said maintenance experience with C-130s among the Chadian and Niger maintainers is somewhat challenging and wide-ranging. He said one student has worked on C-130s since the 1980s, while others have never touched the aircraft.
“Having to develop our approach is a little different than back at home, but it’s going very smooth,” he said. “The students are learning a lot and everybody’s going to end up taking something away from this class.”
Murdock said it has been interesting learning how other countries operate while trying to accomplish similar missions, specifically how they accomplish day-to-day missions on the C-130. At the end of the day, he said, they are all trying to reach the same result, just in different ways.
This was his first time working with partner nations on this scale, Murdock said, adding this has been a good experience for him and something that he can use throughout the remainder of his career.
Working with partner nations enables the Air Force to move to areas where those partner nations are interested in improving humanitarian efforts and disaster relief, promoting regional stability and peacekeeping operations. With a focus on the African continent, the 818th MSAS shares information regarding air mobility operations and procedures to help develop their air mobility systems.
“Building partner capacity is an enduring process that takes time,” Mangrich said. “It may take several visits and years before we start to see tangible results. However, all visits and engagements should fit together in a building block approach to achieve an overall desired end state.”