The 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron (MSAS) recently conducted training with the Chadian Air Force to support peacekeeping and counter violent extremist organizations in the region.
To secure Chadian borders and contribute to regional security across the Sahel, the 818th MSAS and Chadian leadership are enhancing the Chadian Cessna 208 Caravan training program. The RC-208B Caravan is an ISR counterinsurgency aircraft used for bilateral security and peacekeeping operations.
"The Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capacity-building program is a key component of our bilateral security cooperation with Chad," said U.S. Army Maj. Emma Schade, U.S. Embassy N'Djamena chief of security cooperation. “With this ISR capability, the Chadian armed forces can better conduct counterterrorism operations in the region to secure the Chadian people against the terror threat.”
The 818th MSAS air advisors trained 21 Chadian personnel on basic flight maneuvering, instructorship and flight safety over the course of 15 flights. Instructor pilots identified areas for improvement and assisted in developing RC-208B Caravan standard operating procedures for Chadian Air Force personnel.
"Via military-to-military engagements and training exercises through Department of State and Department of Defense program funding, the American bilateral security partnership with Chad increases the professionalization of Chad's military, builds defense and security institutions, and advances human rights, accountability and adherence to the law of armed conflict,” said David Gilmour, U.S. Embassy N'Djamena chargé d'affaires.
Air advisors have contributed to the growth of African partner nation's RC-208B aircraft programs since 2018.
"The MSAS has played a large role in assisting recipient partners in developing their respective air mobility support enterprises to support and sustain RC-208 operations," said U.S. Air Force Maj. John Harris, 818th MSAS assistant director of operations. "Logistics, air base defense, communications, etc. We've been engaging in all of these areas for years, ensuring that our partners can provide adequate support to keep their planes flying.”
Harris, a former KC-10 Extender instructor pilot, took his final flight at the end of the training mission in Chad. ‘Fini’ flights are a longstanding tradition celebrating pilots leaving the unit or retiring.
"Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have devoted ourselves to building real, lasting friendships with our partners in Chad," Harris said. "Conducting my final flight with Chadian pilots is one of the great honors of my career and symbolic of how far our partnership has come.”
A group of Chadian pilots carried out the festivities of the day and helped to enact the water salute, a symbolic gesture of respect where pilots are sprayed with water in recognition of their final flight.
"It was great to see the camaraderie between the American and Chadian pilots and to receive the hospitality of the Chadian military, at the conclusion of a rigorous two weeks of flight and maintenance training," said U.S. Army Maj. Alexander Schade, U.S. Embassy N'Djamena defense attaché. “Celebrating our military traditions together builds esprit de corps and connects people on a personal level."