SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – --
In military operations, it has been proven that working together with partner nations allows the Air Force to embody Air Force senior leader’s message of “stronger together”.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, a graduate of the 80th Flying Training Wing’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program and instructor pilot at Sheppard AFB, recently reiterated that thought in the video “Blue: Stronger Together.”
“Every time I’ve gone into combat for the last 28 years, we’ve been there side to side with our allies and partners,” he said. “I’ve never been in a single fight where I’ve done it alone.”
Sheppard has been at the forefront of creating and developing strong international relationships as the largest and most diverse technical and pilot training installation in the Air Force. Training, developing and inspiring warriors is Sheppard’s mission, which goes hand in hand with that of the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; to organize, train and equip Airmen executing Air Force operations, strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.
To combine these forces, the 818th MSAS sent 15 maintainers from the Chadian, Nigerian and Ethiopian air forces to Sheppard AFB’s aircraft maintenance training environment for a three-week C-130 training course.
Maj. Thomas D. Sena, team leader for the MSAS mission and assistant director of operations, said an initial assessment is accomplished to help air advisors understand the needs of each student attending the training, regardless of rank.
“The ranks vary from airman first class, to master sergeant, to first lieutenant so there can be a significant difference in skill levels,” he said. “To bridge that gap, we break up into teams. We have four subject matter experts from MSAS, four augmentees and one from the contingency response group. These instructors will work with each student to get them training in a way they understand and can take back home with them.”
The first two days of the course consist of lectures translated by the air advisors, and the remaining two and a half weeks are hands-on training.
Sena said the knowledge the Airmen receive here is extremely valuable to them when they get back to their home country, but so are the relationships they’ve built during training.
“It’s very common for myself and other air advisors to see these students again,” he said. “When we go downrange, we’ll plan to go to the countries that have C-130’s and see the ways they’ve built upon what we taught them.”
Sena said despite the language barriers between the Airmen from different parts of Africa, they find ways to interact with each other and even learn from one another often using hand gestures and other means of communications. In essence, it’s creating partnerships among the participating countries that took part in the international training.
While only three countries chose to send their aircraft maintainers to North Texas for training, another 15 African countries were invited. Sena said he is hopeful more will attend in the future.