Inaugural class of air mobility air advisors graduates

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs
Twenty Airmen assigned to two newly-activated Air Mobility Command advisory squadrons graduated from the inaugural Air Education and Training Command Air Advisor Basic Course for Africa and South America here June 17.

Airmen from both the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron, assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing here, and the 571st MSAS, from the 615th CRW at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., were the first air mobility air advisors of the month-long course.

"The air advisor basic course is geared toward providing essential tools and introducing the proper mindset to help Airmen operate successfully in environments where they have no previous experience," said Jay Strack, Air Advisor course coordinator. "We call these skills 'the advisor's toolbox,' because if you have the right tools, you can work through nearly anything."

Course sessions were taught by experts from the Air Force Culture and Language Center, Defense Language Institute, U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, National Defense Institute and the Joint Special Operations University, Strack said. The training provided the team of air mobility specialists with mentoring techniques, foreign language skills and region-specific cultural knowledge. In addition, students learned skills in high-threat driving, advanced weapons and self-protection tactics and earned certification as U.S. Army Combat Lifesavers.

"An effective air advisor isn't just a subject-matter expert in his assigned duties, he's a front-line representative for the United States Air Force," Strack said. "They are equal parts ambassador, teacher, communicator and student of foreign cultures."

While part of the training focused on military tactics, the majority of the classroom time was dedicated to building diplomatic skills needed to work in cultures where one-on-one relationships are highly valued, said Lt. Col. Joseph Sanchez, 571st MSAS commander.

"As air advisors, personal relationships are critical to the success of long-term partnerships with nations we work with," said Sanchez. "The course reinforced the idea that actions matter, reminding each of us to be culturally sensitive in the things we do and say."

"The MSAS teams are now equipped with a solid educational foundation for our building partner capacity missions," added Lt. Col. Thom Adkins, 818th MSAS commander. "While the cultures and even the continents the two squadrons will visit are different, our message remains the same -- this is a tremendous opportunity for all."

The two squadrons are focused on training, advising and assisting partner nations in the development of air mobility systems. This partnership is intended to increase their capacity to govern through presence and persistence in otherwise inaccessible regions of their territories. This access is critical for the delivery of resources and personnel during humanitarian crisis, disaster response and medical evacuation. They are scheduled to begin missions later this year.