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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Airmen mentor Afghan depot personnel

16 May 2007
By Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs


KABUL, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- Airmen stationed here supporting Operation Enduring Freedom are taking the time to mentor Afghan national army soldiers at the Central Maintenance Depot in Kabul.

Serving a one-year deployment, the Air Force mentors are embedded training team members supporting the Central Maintenance Depot's mission -- providing a storage place for the ANA's military supplies that is key for their sustainment level.

The depot is paramount to the ANA's ability to provide combat power, and when the Air Force team arrived, the compound was in austere, run-down conditions.

"This place was in dire need of basic, essential supplies," said Staff Sgt. Falsen Cambre, a weapons embedded training team mentor. "The buildings had no plumbing, electricity or windows. We began supplying them with the basics needed to accomplish the mission."

Some of the depot's 140-year-old buildings house large machines that manufacture vehicle and weapon parts.

"We've given the buildings a 100-year upgrade," said Maj. Jim Wood, a facilities mentor. "We've repaired walls, both structurally and cosmetically, added windows, doors, roofing and electrical capabilities."

The massive facelift did not go unnoticed.

"I'm so impressed how the (embedded training team) always pays attention to cleanliness and order," said ANA Col. Mohammad Usman, the deputy commander at the Central Maintenance Depot.

With time, patience and effort, the mentors have established and fostered a good working relationship with their ANA counterparts.

"They are very friendly and I've enjoyed our effective relationship," Colonel Usman said. "They have increased my leadership experience."

Helping to implement new safety practices was Senior Master Sgt. Bill Cole.

"Our team often stresses safety," the embedded training team member said. "Safety is, without a doubt, our No. 1 priority."

All manufacturing machines are cleaned and maintained to remain in proper working order. The team also designed a slogan, "People first, mission ready" to drive the safety message home. A large board was created to display this message and other important themes and proven safety practices.

"I'm impressed by this concept," said Lt. Col. Mohammad Asif, the machine shop chief. "A safe environment will provide the workers with the opportunity to produce good work."

"We're making a significant difference here," Major Wood said. "Several projects have enhanced the depot's ability to perform its important mission."

After constant use, weapons tend to break down. When that happens, they go to the depot for repair and maintenance. Once repaired, they must be tested for effectiveness.

This was when Major Wood and Sergeant Cambre's ingenuity was called to order. After reading through Air Force instructions, they synchronized their ideas to build a test firing range.

"This allows (the ANA) to test the weapons in a safe environment," Sergeant Cambre said. "This was a great team accomplishment and I'm happy they have a good firing range."

Whether it's a new firing range, buildings or supplies, the Airmen mentors left a mark on their ANA brethren's commitment to duty.

"I like being a part of the order established in our country and military," Colonel Usman said.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Falsen Cambre talks with Afghan national army weapon repair soldiers about logistical issues at the central maintenance depot in Kabul, Afghanistan. Airmen are mentoring ANA soldiers by establishing a process that helps improve the ANA's logistical capabilities. Sergeant Cambre is an embedded training team member assigned to Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan. U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr.

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