Bridge to the Future

The Afghan air force has come a long way since 2007, said Brig. Gen. John Michel, commanding general of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, on Tuesday. “One of the things we’re trying to overcome is many, many decades of more of a dependency mindset” within the AAF that the Soviets instilled years ago, he said at AFA’s 2013 Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. This led to the Afghans not having “all the capability they need to stand alone,” said Michel. “We have 39 months” to complete the training mission to build the AAF in capability and in capacity to sustain itself, he said. The kind of advisors Michel said he seeks must have versatility, cultural competence, and emotional intelligence as they interact and guide Afghans. The advisors are the “desired bridge” for the future, he said, and “if you don’t have the ability to manage yourself and manage relationships,” you won’t be able to succeed in this area.