Providing the “total package” through Foreign Military Sales is not just about providing equipment or materiel, it’s about providing international partners a capability that supports U.S. combatant commands. And that’s exactly what the U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization, or SATMO, a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command and its major command, Army Materiel Command, is doing.
In January, SATMO’s Swedish technical assistance fielding team located in Linkoping, Sweden, deployed in support of the Swedish armed forces’ procurement of 15 UH-60M aircraft. The SwAF is scheduled to deploy to the Afghanistan area of responsibility in March 2013 and will provide critical MEDEVAC support for coalition forces.
SATMO selected and deployed three of the most experienced U.S. Army aviation UH-60 crew members to facilitate the time-line. The team’s mission is to ensure the SwAF is able to meet the demanding requirements in the extremely short time frame and to simultaneously garner the proficiency needed to reduce operational risk.
“Having a TAFT in Sweden is a very efficient method to provide flexible training to the customer,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bobette “Bobi” McGettigan, the TAFT’s lead. McGettigan is a senior chief warrant officer and, according to Col. Joe Bovy, SATMO’s commander, one of the most senior UH-60A/L/M maintenance test pilots and maintenance test flight examiners currently in Army aviation.
“Our TAFT has a high level of experience in combat environments with the UH-60 and the M version of the Black Hawk. This enables us to fit the proper topics into the Swedish command team’s training plan to meet the mission requirement as part of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force),” McGettigan added.
The TAFT trains and advises on all aspects of the UH-60M Blackhawk to include logistics, maintenance, flight, and staff preparation.
“Many of the systems are a brand new concept to the Swedish armed forces to include aircraft survivability equipment, communication security equipment, aviation mission planning system and many maintenance systems,” McGettigan noted.
“The Swedish military is very advanced and has established effective systems, regulations and practices that these new systems must fall in line with.”
Finding a way to bridge the systems to the culture is what makes SATMO’s TAFTs unique to the Army. The TAFT “tailors” the training to the specific country’s needs.
“The ability to draw on TAFT members who have established relationships through prolonged time spent with the unit, and the incorporation of new equipment and practices, aids in the implementation to the ‘Swedish Way,’” McGettigan explained.
The TAFT also fills in other needs, such as providing make-up training when other priorities call, supplementing contractor training with UH-60M specific operator level details from personal experience in-theater and shaping future training.
“This is a real advantage to the customer, providing technical training combined with mission experience, while providing flexibility and savings in both time and money,” McGettigan said.
The SwAF helicopter squadron accomplished numerous “firsts” with the TAFT in lead. These include establishing the ability to communicate securely across the battlefield and using ASE. In addition to meeting several of the initial training requirements, the TAFT also assisted in the modification of several SwAF existing doctrines. These will provide for the domestic employment of the Blackhawk in Sweden.
Continuous communications with other U.S. agencies and throughout all rank structures in the Swedish government is another result of the TAFT and its partner.
“TAFT is on the ground, in the hangar, in the cockpit, around the break areas with our counterparts, allowing easy access to our experiences and resources to complete the end state which is to provide MEDEVAC services to ISAF,” McGettigan concluded, proving SATMO’s motto to be true — “Training the world, one Soldier at a time.”