Airman builds partnership with Kenyan Air Force

  • Published
  • 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Since mid-September, an Airman from the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron has been assisting the 492d Special Operations Wing in training with Kenyan Air Force at Hurlburt Field, Florida. 

The purpose of this training is to instruct Kenyan Air Force pilots and loadmasters on the C-145 Skytruck aircraft. Due to the compressed planning timeline and funding requirements, the SOW requested an air advisor from the MSAS to assist with the Mobile Training Team, or MTT, as an assistant International Military Student Officer and provide 24/7 assistance with the Kenyan aircrews. 

Master Sgt. Michael Torbett, command and control air advisor, volunteered for the opportunity and was in place within three-days. He was put to work immediately and has been building a relationship not just with the Kenyan students, but also strengthening the bonds between Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Mobility Command. 

Due to the MSAS’s expertise on the continent of Africa, which is the squadron’s primary area of responsibility for security cooperation missions, MSAS air advisors were an ideal choice to assist the SOW on this particular mission.

“Security Cooperation is always a team effort, where collaboration and cross-talk truly improve the ability of the U.S. Air Force to build international partnerships and advise partner forces,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Magill, 818th MSAS commander. “We were excited for the opportunity to work together with both the 492d and our Kenyan partners.”

Upon arrival, Torbett assisted with in-processing the aircrews into Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base.

“During in-processing, it was determined that the Kenyan aircrews required additional training that could not be sourced locally,” Torbett said. “Coordinating with Columbus AFB’s 14th Medical Operations Squadron for Initial Physiological and Altitude Chamber training, developing short-notice logistics and coordinating base-access was instrumental for the execution of this multi-day TDY.” 

Torbett served as the MTT team lead where he was the 24/7 point of contact for all schedule changes for emergency and medical requirements, notifying MTT stakeholders of student progress and creating weekly storyboards highlighting training events.

“Sgt. Torbett maintained extensive social contact with the Kenyan students, spending countless hours exposing our Kenyan partners to American culture,” said Maj. Michael McGee, 492d SOW plans and programs director. “These experiences help meet the objectives of the Department of Defense Field Studies Program by socializing our international partners with American ways of life, how our government and military operate, and how human rights are incorporated throughout American institutions.”   

Taking advantage of every opportunity to socialize the 818th MSAS’s mission, Torbett also briefed the 492d SOW commander, Col. Andrew Jett and the Air Force Special Operations Command’s Director of Operations, Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier, on the capabilities and operations of the 818th MSAS.

Continuing to build working relationships with the 492d SOW, he also facilitated talks to utilize the 6th Special Operations Squadron’s Cessna 208 aircraft training program to conduct proficiency training for 818th MSAS pilots. 

“Sgt. Torbett has been a great ambassador in relationship building with the partner nation and with the 492d SOW,” Magill said.  “As Security Cooperation continues to mature, these two squadrons will continue to work together to advance the foreign policy agenda of the United States and continue to build partnerships around the world.”