The nation is mourning the US Military's largest loss of lives in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. 22 Navy Seals, an Army Crew, Air Force troops and eight Afghan Soldiers were all killed this weekend when the Taliban struck a helicopter with a rocket propelled grenade. Sheppard Air Force Base has three Mobile Trainers currently overseas in Afghanistan training Afghan Airmen how to be instructors. It is a first in Sheppard history. The trainers tell Newschannel 6 Monday one of the biggest challenges is communication.
These Airmen from Sheppard are teaching Afghan's Military how to develop curriculum for its Air Force. These trainers don't speak Dari, so they have interpreters in class to help breakthrough communication barriers. But there are some words and phrases that just don't translate. Mobile Trainer Thomas Bender says, "I've been here about 6 months now. Probably one of the biggest barriers are idioms. If I throw out an idiom they can't really culturalize to it. So you've got to use examples and explanations based off of their culture." Sheppard Air Force Base Training Operations Director Patsy Klein says, "Here, we take it for granted when we use acronyms or comparisons or relationships. We take it for granted that everyone just identifies with those, but not so in the Afghani culture." Technical Sergeant Dustin Wilder says it has taken some time, but they are learning how to communicate. He says, "You find ways to work around that. And we're getting a lot of good advancements here with the Afghans' motivation is starting to pick up quite a bit."
Already one of 29 Afghan Trainees is fully trained. And two more are close to completing the courses. The Sergeants hope to train as many Afghanis as possible so when they back home they can further develop their programs on their own. Klein says, "We're very proud of them. And we look forward to them coming home safely." The courses are about aircraft maintenance and aviation. The Sergeants say they teach them how to counsel as well as how to develop courses. The Mobile Trainers are scheduled to come back to Sheppard Air Force Base this Friday.