The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is one of the oldest Air Forces in the world. Initially formed in 1924, at its height it operated over 400 aircraft during the 1980s, predominately Soviet types, of which approximately 200 were fighter jets. The collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992, shortly after the withdrawal of Soviet forces, saw the AAF reduced to little more than a dozen helicopters during the subsequent period of the Taliban rule. Under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO Combined Air Power Transition Force (CAPTF) began work to rebuild and modernise the AAF. When Operation Resolute Support (RS) replaced ISAF in early 2015, CAPTF was renamed as the NATO Air Command – Afghanistan (NAC-A), continuing efforts to modernise the AAF under a train, advise, assist model that was introduced as an element of the coalition ‘light footprint’. Until recently, NAC-A was staffed by over 1,300 coalition members from 13 different nations, providing mentoring across all tactical and operational elements within the AAF. This was in support of over USD$8 billion of investment into the AAF that has delivered a fleet of over 150 aircraft, the majority of which were delivered within the last three years.
This presentation provided recent insights into the NAC-A mission in support of the AAF, specifically from a Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air) perspective. It also provided an overview of the current state of AAF and its effectiveness in supporting Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) in Counter Insurgency (COIN) Operations. The presentation shared recent experiences by GPCAPT Phil Arms in his role as the TAAC-Air CJ3 and FLTLT Kaela Childs as the Logistics Advisor within 438 Air Expeditionary Advisor Group (AEAG), before concluding with an assessment of what the future holds for the AAF.
About the Presenters
Group Captain Philip ‘Hog’ Arms, CSC
GPCAPT Arms joined the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1989, graduating Pilots Course in mid-1993. During his flying career he has flown over 3000 hours in over 30 aircraft types, with more than 2300 hours as captain on the F/A-18. He is a graduate of the United Stated Navy Test Pilots School, has extensive experience in flight test operations, and held command of No. 75 Squadron, RAAF Tindal from January 2010 until December 2012.
While posted as a member of the RAAF’s Aircrew Sustainability Project (ASP) in 2008, GPCAPT Arms was awarded of a Conspicuous Service Cross for his contribution to aircrew retention and remuneration initiatives now applied across the Australian Defence Force.
GPCAPT Arms recent completed a 10 month deployment to Afghanistan under Operation HIGHROAD where he performed the role as the Operations Director (CJ3) within the NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command – Afghanistan (TAAC-Air).
He is currently the Director Pacific Air Community (PAC), a role in which he is responsible to the Air Commander Australia for developing the RAAF contribution to the ADF’s Enhanced Regional Engagement (ERE) strategy across the South-West Pacific.
Flight Lieutenant Kaela Childs
Flight Lieutenant Kaela Childs joined the Air Force in 2012 through the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. She graduated ADFA in 2014 with a Bachelor of Business and proceeded on posting as a Flying Officer to 381SQN Contingency Response Squadron (CRS) at RAAF Base Williamtown. Upon completion of Logistics Officer Initial Course (LOIC), she conducted her duties as the S4 in providing logistic support to conduct training for mission scenarios for HADR, EHC, Bare Base activations and minor and Major Air Head operations. In 2016 she was awarded with the Australian Defence Medal.
In 2017 FLTLT Childs was posted to HQSRG as the SO3LOG. During this time, she was responsible for the logistics governance for SRG WG’s and Units which included 41, 42, 44 and 92WG. She found opportunities to support the units with stints as the 3CRU LOGO conducting planning for EX Talisman Sabre 2017 and participating in EX Arnhem Thunder as the 2SQN LOGO at RAAF Base Tindal. She was promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant in Dec, 2017.
In Nov 2018, she deployed on OP HIGHROAD as a Logistics Advisor to the Afghan Air Force. She provided tactical level support to a National Aviation Supply Pipeline embedded in the US led Mission Train Advise Assist Air (TAAC-AIR) element. She was deployed for 6 and half months and received the NATO Non Article 5 Medal with Clasp Afghanistan and the Australian Operational Service Medal – Greater Middle East Operation.
Upon return form deployment, FLTLT Childs was posted to JC4ISPO as a System Manager in Russell and is currently fulfilling this role.