818 MSAS boosts Chad ISR capabilities

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing

In a nation bordered by several countries dealing with international terror groups, the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron (MSAS) helped in the fight against terrorism throughout West Africa.

"When the house of your neighbor is burning, try to help him,” explained Chadian Air Force Lt. Djimadoum Nadjirade, communications student. “Otherwise, maybe this fire will also enter your house.”

The MSAS sent eight Airmen to advise, train and assist with intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR), aircraft maintenance, logistics, and security anti-terrorism at Adjikossei Air Base, Chad, Jan. 8 - 19. The two-week program consisted of classroom instruction and hands-on training for 40 Chadian airmen.

"We feel like it is very important for them to receive this training now to self-sustain today so that they can progress in the future," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Julio Figueroa, air advisor.

According to U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Harvey, Chad mobile training team mission commander, the Chadian air force recently received a C-208 aircraft for ISR use.

“It's a bush plane that's been used to build an ISR platform for the Chadian Air Force,” Harvey said. "Our Airmen are here to help them understand the systems that they have, give them advice on exactly how to utilize those systems and training, assisting, and assessing of all of the communication equipment that has been delivered for this ISR package."

One of the mobile training team Airmen sent to assist the Chadians on the ISR platform is U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevan Sutton, a communications air advisor.

"The communications equipment here is very robust," Sutton said. "My role is to teach high frequency, very-high frequency, and ultra-high frequency radio capabilities. We are also training line-of-sight, which is the ability to communicate from the antenna to the aircraft using a clear line of sight."

According to Sutton, the training is going to help Chadian airmen use their ISR capabilities to degrade terrorism in the area.

"We also have an MX-15 camera that is located on the plane that supplies a live video feed. This will help Chadians in the effort against violent extremist organizations in the region, particularly Boko Haram and potentially the Islamic State in the North," Sutton said.

According to Nadjirade, ISR will become very important for Chad in the near future as they develop the capability.

"With the ISR system, we can have control [of the enemies] and try to track them. Nadjirade said. "We have to give the right information to our intelligence to help them analyze everything. If we make a mistake, we can kill people if we provide the wrong information."

For the security anti-terrorism portion of the training, Figueroa stated they were implementing phase three, which is training the Chadian airmen how to train their own instructors on security procedures.

"We are teaching them how to actually train and evaluate some of their own forces in the future," Figueroa said. "It's important because we believe that the Chadians can complete this training and do some self-sustaining on their own and implement some of the issues that they are having with standardizing some of their training."

Figueroa said the impact of these missions could be huge, such as the impact the maintenance team had during an engagement last year. The aircraft maintenance advisors managed to fix an actual issue on their Chadian C-130 Hercules aircrafts and within 12 hours, they had then deployed out to handle real-world missions in Mali.

"That is one of the more impactful things that has happened since we've been here," Figueroa said. "Sometimes it's difficult because you don't see the success until your next engagement. But sometimes it's as simple as seeing someone's face light up and knowing that they actually understood what was being taught."

Figueroa said building partnerships with the Chadians is as important as the training itself.

“The rapport here is beyond friendship, we consider them extended family," Figueroa said. "To know that we're making an impact, to me it is uncanny, not something you do every day."

At the end of the training event, a closing ceremony was held where Col. Mahamat Yaya, Chadian air force deputy chief of staff spoke to the U.S. and Chadian Airmen.

"Thank you for your assistance," Yaya said. "My country is very grateful for your cooperation. This training is very critical to us. Long live the Chadian and US Air Force partnership!"