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C-17 Airmen expand global reach

AGRA AIR FORCE STATION, India (AFNS) -- Forging combat mobility forces is something that the aircrew instructors of the C-17 Globemaster III take extremely serious, but that mission is not just limited to skies over the U.S.

A team of Airmen from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, recently spent two weeks with the Indian Air Force to train and certify pilots and loadmasters on personnel airdrop procedures from the C-17.

Because Altus AFB is the only formal training unit for C-17s in the world, Indian Air Force crewmembers came through Altus AFB three years ago. They graduated and left with a restriction that they had to complete their first drop under the supervision of a current and qualified airdrop instructor.

Not only were the U.S. Airmen helping the loadmasters and pilots gain current status, but also helped the Indian Air Force write their own future programs.

“Anytime you do something the first time it is a pretty amazing experience,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Paul Dragnich, a 97th Training Squadron instructor pilot. “Helping another country write its standard operating procedures and seeing their confidence grow over the eight flights was something this team can be proud of for a long time.”

Over the course of the two weeks more than 300 Indian military personnel jumped from the C-17s. The instruction was focused on the correct preflight and in-flight procedures written in the technical orders. The real challenge was teaching the things not written; they learned techniques to make the operations smoother as well as improved the crew resource management between the front of the plane and the back.

Along with the aircrew training, the two weeks served as training for the Indian jumpmasters and paratroopers who had received ground training from a U.S. Army team that visited them in December.

“One of the hardest parts was the Indian jumpmaster wanted us to give them training as well, but it was a little outside our scope since they hadn’t operated in a C-17 before,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeff Harmon, a 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron evaluator loadmaster. “We were able to tell them what we have seen American jumpmasters do, but we couldn’t provide formal training for them.”

Because the Airmen were from 58th Airlift Squadron and 730th AMTS they had some instant creditability with the students because they had previous experience with the squadrons. They knew that they could rely on what was being taught. On the first flight the Indian instructors were trained, and after that day they took the lead. The Indian Air Force students were extremely motivated to not only be trained, but to be doing it the right way.

Getting it done the right way could make all the difference in real-world operations for both the U.S. and Indian military.

The Indian military currently has troops deployed to Afghanistan, helping the U.S. efforts in the region. The completion of this training expands the reach of the Indian military.