From 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
KABUL, Afghanistan – A 1974 Academy graduate dusted off his flight suit to bring his knowledge of air power applications to the Afghanistan National Army Air Corps.
Christopher Campbell, a retired colonel and native of Lexington, Ky., is currently the program manager for the Military Professional Resources Inc. Combined Air Power Transition Force support program at the Kabul International Airport, serving on an indefinite deployment.
In this capacity, Mr. Campbell is part of the CAPTF advisory team responsible for training Afghanistan National Army Air Corps personnel how to properly maintain and operate their fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 Hip and Mi-35 Hind E helicopters, An-32 cargo planes and Italian-made C-27 Spartans.
“The experience of assisting in the reconstruction of the government of Afghanistan, and in particular the Afghan National Army Air Corps, has been nothing short of a fantastic and extremely fulfilling experience,” Mr. Campbell said.
Since his arrival in February 2009, Campbell has helped the Afghans double their Mi-17 fleet, re-energize their Mi-35 gunship program and bed down their first western-designed C-27 aircraft. He manages a team of 12 American contractor mentors and 16 Afghan translators and drivers supporting the mission of CAPTF, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force.
Prior to this assignment, Mr. Campbell was the senior mentor to the Parliamentary Affairs Department of the Afghan Ministry of the Interior from February to September 2009. In addition to his program manager duties, he currently serves as mentor to the Army Air Corps chief of staff.
“The receptivity of the Afghans, both military and civilian alike, for what the United States and the Coalition are trying to do, is remarkable,” Mr. Campbell said. “After more than three decades of war, the average citizen wants it all to be over. He seems to appreciate that we do too. But he is also afraid that we will leave his country high and dry. The Afghans are good people and want to raise their children in peace. We are helping them develop the defensive capability to do just that.”
The Afghanistan National Army Air Corps has flown more than 5,000 sorties, delivering 33,000 passengers and 739 tons of cargo throughout Afghanistan, in the past year. The Corps also delivered 27 tons of ballot materials to support the Afghan presidential election, rescued more than 5,000 villagers displaced by floodwaters, stood up three forward operating bases and hosted several high-ranking officials – including the secretary of defense, the ISAF and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan commander and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
At present, the Afghan National Army Air Corps has 46 military aircraft and more than 3,000 assigned personnel. Those numbers are expected to grow to 154 aircraft and more than 8,000 personnel by 2016.