Ten Royal Australian Air Force members are embedded at Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air) providing mentoring support to their Afghan Air Force counterparts in Kabul, Afghanistan.
One of those RAAF members is FLTLT Mitchell Keene, who is enjoyed helping the Afghans develop their skills during his recent deployment to Afghanistan as an air-to- ground integration adviser with the Train Advise Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air).
Air-to-ground integration is a new and developing capability for the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
FLTLT Keene was part of a coalition team that trains AAF Joint Terminal Air Coordinators (JTACs).
His role was to develop training packages for the JTACs that would help advance Afghanistan’s air power in the fight against the Taliban.
FLTLT Keene said the Afghan JTACs are successfully sup- porting AAF attack aircraft in engaging planned targets and in close-air attack in support of ground troops.
“It was a real highlight to witness their increased skills throughout my time with them, but also to promote an awareness of the vital role that JTACs play in combat,” FLTLT Keene said.
“The mission reports of the guys we’ve trained speak for themselves.”
He said many JTAC students transferred from other corps and trades because of a desire to contribute to Afghanistan’s fight in a meaningful way.
“As Afghan commanders have seen the value of JTACs, higher quality students are being put forward for training,” FLTLT Keene said.
“As a result, we’ve seen more effective use of air power in their operations.”
Apart from the growing success of the Afghan JTACs, FLTLT Keene’s deployment highlights included working closely with the Afghan Air Force and US Air Force.
“I gained a solid understanding of how Australia’s biggest coa- lition partner operates,” he said.
“I shared information on how our RAAF works and developed some really strong effective working relationships.
“But, most importantly, helping to develop the skills of the Afghan Air Force JTACs was a great feeling.”