Afghanistan combat missions change daily
By Capt. Sheree Savage, 133AW Public Affairs
/ Published December 04, 2008
BAGRAM, Afghanistan --
From aircraft mechanics to the flight crew, everyday is a little different for deployed Minnesota Airmen stationed at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.
Command pilot, Maj. Jeffrey Wong, 109th Airlift Squadron, and his crew departed for their first combat air-land mission in country Monday, Dec. 1. The first stop was a military base in Herat where they delivered supplies and picked up about 50 Afghanistan and U.S. Army military leaders.
On board the C-130 Hercules aircraft was Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, Commander of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, which trains, equips and fields the Afghan National Security Forces, both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.
"What we are really trying to do is accelerate the development of the Afghan National Security Forces," said Maj. Gen. Cone. "The Afghans today are talking more than half of the fight and what we would like to see is for them to take as much of all of it as quick as we can to get that done."
Last year the Afghan National Army grew by 26,000 Soldiers and next year it's expected to expand by 28,000. The U.S. military has been training the Afghan National Army for five years, but training the police for only one year.
Senior leaders gather every six months to continue strategizing security progression. Maj. Gen. Cone explained that the leadership team recognizes the changing situation in Iraq and with that it should give the military the resources needed to help the Afghans take over quicker than anticipated.
Soon after Maj. Gen. Cone and his team were transported to Kabul, Afghanistan, the 133rd Airlift Wing crew headed to Camp Bastian, Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan to pick up nearly 50 Marines after they served in the field for eight months.
This mission was the first combat mission in Afghanistan for Tech. Sgt. Jason Weber, a loadmaster in the 109th Airlift Squadron.
"It's rewarding doing a job that I trained for," said Tech. Sgt. Weber. "It was nice to work with a crew today that has done this before; they were very helpful and instructional."
Tech. Sgt. Weber worked with Master Sgt. Josh Meister, also a loadmaster with the 109th Airlift Squadron, on their first mission. Both loadmasters were positioned in the rear of the aircraft watching for threats and were prepared to release flares if needed.
"We're ready for our next mission," said Tech. Sgt. Weber. "We are prepared for air land, air drop and aeromedical missions."
Twelve hours after take off the crew returned safely to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.