The 435th Contingency Response Support Squadron air advisor team is leading the way in building partner capacity by training NATO countries such as the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Lithuania.
“We are that middle piece that connects the U.S. embassy, (United States Air Forces Europe – Air Forces Africa), the subject matter experts, and the point-of-contacts,” said Tech. Sgt. James Stewart, 435th CRSS security forces air advisor.
The 435th CRSS air advisor team and members from the 52nd Operations Support Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to the Czech Republic in April 2021 to train Czech air force members on joint combined aircrew system testers, a device to evaluate aircrew flight equipment.
The 52nd OSS trained the Czech air force in order to modernize their military prowess and establish them as a strong NATO partner, while the 435th CRSS air advisor team coordinated between Czech embassies to ensure the operation ran smoothly.
“As air advisors, we have that big picture roadmap in the back of our heads at all times,” said Capt. Sylvan LaChance, 435th CRSS flight commander. “(For example,) ‘This is the direction we want to head in, and these are the events or missions that are going to help us get there.’”
By the end of the training eight Czech airmen at the 21st tactical air base successfully completed aircrew flight equipment training, which further enhanced their capabilities to train future JCAST technicians.
Moreover, a primary objective of this training is to increase NATO cooperation between the two countries, which will result in an enduring partnership furthering the mission.
“It’s important for us to execute so we can train our NATO partners to meet those interoperability goals we have as the U.S. Air Force,” Stewart said.
As subject matter experts, they are responsible for teaching all Czech air force members on JCAST material. Likewise, air advisors are responsible for making sure SMEs have all the material they need to teach efficiently.
“I was nervous going into it because I did not know what to expect,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Wade, 52nd OSS non-commissioned officer in charge of aircrew flight equipment quality assurance. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of technicians. They were excited about learning and picked it up very well.”
An air advisor’s mission is to go behind the scenes and make sure operations between the U.S. and the host nation country run smoothly, but some foreign national service members are more than comrades — they are also friends.
“We do stuff outside of the uniform to build those relationships because we’ll be coming back to do more training,” Stewart said. “We want to create a bond.”
The 435th CRSS air advisor team is far from done. Up next, the team is planning to conduct missions in Lithuania and Ukraine later this year.