Mongolians Share Helicopter Savvy with Afghans

Mongolian air force personnel have joined NATO’s mission to train the Afghan air force. These Mongolian advisors are experienced with the Mi-17 helicopters that the Afghans currently fly and share a similar culture, and, in some cases, a common language. “They have two people on their team that speak Russian” said US Air Force Capt. Tom Philbert, a rotary wing maintenance advisor. Older Afghan maintainers were trained by the Russians and many Mi-17 technical documents are often only available in Russian, so the Mongolians’ language abilities will ease some training tasks, he explained. Lt. Col. Chogdon Boldbaatar, Mongolian advising team commander, said his advisors would focus on building Afghan capacity to maintain the Mi-17. “We want our advisors to push the low-level workers and crew chiefs to learn, so they can take care of the helicopters,” he said. (Kabul report by Jared Walker)