AFCLC Faculty Member Supports Air Advisor Academy in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Air Force Culture and Language Center
  • Air University
While a university classroom is a common setting for academic professors, faculty from the Air Force Culture and Language Center share their expertise around the world in many different environments. Recently, the AFCLC's assistant professor of cross-cultural organizational communication spent two weeks in Afghanistan, providing assistance to the U.S. Air Force Air Advisor Academy.

Dr. William Dulaney was part of a ten-person team that interviewed AAA graduates who are currently working as air advisors to the Afghan Air Force. Air advisors are Airmen specially trained and educated to advise and assist foreign personnel in the development and application of their aviation resources. All Airmen who are selected to be air advisors must attend the AAA to learn the methods to effectively, legally and safely apply their skills and experience in a partner nation environment. The academy is a new organization, and assessment of the training they provide is an important part of ensuring air advisors are prepared for their missions.

"It is absolutely critical that the students of the Air Advisor Academy have the most relevant, up to date training and education to prepare them for their challenging air advising in Afghanistan," said Col. John Holm, AAA commander. "To make that happen, every 18 months we send a team to Afghanistan to interview Air Advisors in the field to ask them how well the Air Advisor Academy prepared them for their mission."

The assessment team was made up of experts from the AAA, U.S. Air Force Central Command, Air Education and Training Command, U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, and the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance, as well as the AFCLC. Dulaney and his teammates sought feedback from the Airmen regarding the pre-deployment training and education they had received through AAA.

The team interviewed more than two hundred air advisors during their two weeks in-country. "With the information we obtain from the visits and the interviews we make appropriate and immediate updates to our Air Advisor Academy to meet the needs of our war fighting graduates," Holm said.

The trip was nothing new for Dulaney, who has served in many different roles in the region. In 2011, he worked supporting village stability operations and as the Senior Human Terrain Social Scientist in Region Command South. However, this particular assessment visit was significant to Dulaney because of the extensive relationship between the AFCLC and AAA, and because of the encouraging signs he saw throughout this trip.

"My last tour in Afghanistan ended in October 2011, and I left the theater with little hope for success," he said. "After these interviews in Kabul, Kandahar, Shindand and Herat, cautious optimism started replacing my sense of hopelessness."

Dulaney credited the work of the air advisors for his renewed hopes. The interviews showed how air advisors in country are using the experiences of earlier air advisors to build lasting and meaningful partnerships with the Afghan Air Force.

"Air Advisors cultivate esprit de corps," Dulaney said. "They foster pride in craftsmanship, professionalism, and accountability, and they establish lasting Afghan military traditions that are so important to functional, enduring military organizations -- in other words, a meaningful sense of cultural identity. And this is something to be proud of indeed."

The AAA is located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. It was created to provide "train-the-trainer" instruction to Airmen headed for combat air advisor positions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Training at AAA focuses on combat skills and cultural awareness. The AFCLC and AAA partner for much of the cultural awareness information, with AFCLC providing educational training support, curriculum and in-person lectures at the AAA.

"We could not be effective in our mission to stay relevant without the combined efforts from the AFCLC," Holm said. "This year, we had the great fortune to include Dr. Dulaney with his vast experience in Afghanistan on our team. His incredible insight and access to the vast resources at the AFCLC was critical to the success of our mission to better prepare our war-bound air advisors."