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MSAS builds partnerships, capacity in Zambia

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

Approximately 10 Airmen assigned to the 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron recently returned from a building partner capacity mission to Lusaka, Zambia, May 29 to June 9. The MSAS conducted training for the Zambian Air Force in preparation for the nation’s first humanitarian mission in support of the U.N. to South Sudan This event marks the first deployment in the ZAF's history.

The MSAS train, advise and assist partner nations in developing air mobility systems and processes, enabling nations to physically extend the reach of their governance and rapidly responds to contingencies. Additionally, MSAS helps strengthen international ties and promote interoperability.

For the ZAF, the training consisted of combat survival, night vision, aircrew flight equipment, command and control, airbase security, survival skills, intelligence and medical training. The first part of training consisted of three days of classwork before coming together for a day and testing it out during an exercise designed for hands-on training.

“We are here to assist, train and advise the ZAF on how to deploy as a unit,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Bree Lanz, 818th MSAS Zambia BPC mission commander. “We are training and building their capacities to ensure a successful deployment.”

According to ZAF Maj. Zacharia Mbewe, UH-1 Huey helicopter pilot, the MSAS training has been invaluable for the ZAF for their historic deployment.

“This is the first time that we are deploying as a unit so we need some experience on what to expect,” Mbewe said. “From what we have learned, it has been priceless. It is necessary because we are going into an area that we really don’t know. We've never really ever done this and anything can happen. We can be attacked and we must be ready for that.”

According to U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Evan Gohring, 818th MSAS command and control air advisor, the interactions with the ZAF Airmen have been an important part of the mission.

“Building partnerships is important because we make a lasting impact on these countries,” Gohring said. “They get the training, but it's not only the training, we’re building these relationships.”

“I think the interaction with the [MSAS] has been very friendly and open,” Mbewe added. “It's been easy to approach [the air advisors] and I think that is very important.”