Multinational force leads helicopter operations in Afghanistan

The ISAF mis­sion in Afghanistan is, by its very nature, a multi­na­tion­al, mul­ti-Ser­vice one. How­ev­er, there are few units that embody this inter­na­tion­al part­ner­ship bet­ter than the Joint Heli­copter Force (Afghanistan) [JHF(A)].

The members of the multinational Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan)
The mem­bers of the multi­na­tion­al Joint Heli­copter Force (Afghanistan)
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

JHF(A) forms part of the Joint Avi­a­tion Group, com­mand­ed by Group Cap­tain Nick Laird.

This in turn forms part of the US 3rd Marine Air­craft Wing (For­ward), com­mand­ed by Brigadier Gen­er­al Andrew W O’Donnell Jr — a rel­a­tive­ly new com­bined organ­i­sa­tion that began on 1 June this year.

Since then, the two forces have been oper­at­ing in uni­son under Brigadier Gen­er­al O’Donnell’s author­i­ty as the sole avi­a­tion com­bat ele­ment of Region­al Com­mand (South West) — the com­mand respon­si­ble for oper­a­tions in Hel­mand and Nim­ruz provinces.

They have com­plete­ly pooled their resources and man­pow­er in order to sup­port the mis­sions across one of the most dan­ger­ous and influ­en­tial regions in Afghanistan.

How­ev­er, it is not just the com­mand chain that JHF(A) sits with­in that makes it so diverse. With­in the force itself there are no few­er than sev­en nation­al­i­ties, with per­son­nel from the UK, the US, Cana­da, South Africa, Den­mark, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Mike McGin­ty, Army Air Corps, Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of JHF(A), said:

JHF(A) is joint and multi­na­tion­al at its very core. I have detach­ment com­man­ders from the Roy­al Navy, the Roy­al Marines, the Army and the Roy­al Air Force.

“In fact we’ve been doing this so long that we don’t see the colour of each other’s uni­forms any­more, although this doesn’t mean that there is a lack of healthy inter-Ser­vice ban­ter!

“We also have a large num­ber of our allies embed­ded with­in our forces, whether per­ma­nent­ly or on exchange. This high­lights the fact that they are our allies, and not just our neigh­bours.

“Through­out this tour I expect to com­mand US Marines, US Navy, US Air Force, Aus­tralian Navy, Dan­ish Air Force, Cana­di­an Air Force and New Zealand Air Force per­son­nel and it is this depth of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence which allows us to co-oper­ate so well with the MAW [3rd Marine Air­craft Wing].

“Our mil­i­tary mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism helps not only dri­ve for­ward our work with our ISAF allies, but more impor­tant­ly with our Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces part­ners, as seen with the recent sup­port giv­en to the Afghan Air Force for the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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