Squadron assists Yemeni Air Force
By Tech. Sgt. Diane Stinnett, Cargo Courier Staff Writer
/ Published June 11, 2008
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD, LOUISVILLE, KY. -- A team of Kentucky Air National Guardsmen from the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron deployed to Sena, Yemen, recently to help the Yemeni Air Force improve maintenance operations on C-130 aircraft.
The six-person team, which was deployed in country from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, included experts on aircraft engines, electronics, communications equipment and navigation gear, said Lt. Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
While there, the Kentucky Airmen evaluated all aspects of the Yemeni maintenance operation and offered advice on ways to improve efficiency, using Kentucky's operations as a benchmark, Colonel Gorter said.
The Yemenis were "very receptive" to the input, he added.
"They really had open arms to what we had to say. We went there basically just saying this is the way the United States Air Force does C-130 operations, and they wanted every bit of information they could get.
"They are a group of people working very hard to try to establish better operations. Unfortunately they have much less resources to draw from."
The Yemen Air Force operates with two C-130 H models, one of which was undergoing major maintenance during the deployment.
This is not the first time that Kentucky has been called upon to assess the operations of a foreign ally.
"Earlier in the year we were in Kuwait, and I have been to Ecuador on the same type of mission," said Tech. Sgt. Jeff Noel, who also went on the Yemen deployment. "I think it is more or less a goodwill gesture for these countries."
The deployment also provided an opportunity to interact with the Yemenis outside of working hours, Colonel Gorter said. "The last day we were there, they took us out for a traditional Yemeni dinner. It was really interesting -- there was one long table with probably 30 people around it with all these different dishes. There were no utensils, so everyone was eating with their fingers, which is the traditional Yemeni way. It was fun. It was interesting, everyone sharing finger food essentially at a big banquet table."
2nd Lt. James Embry, an aircraft maintenance officer with the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said the deployment was a success.
"I would love to have the opportunity to go back after some of the changes hopefully are made and they get some of the equipment and technical data and things that they need.
"We weren't really sure how much good we would do by going there and having them look a little bit at how we do business, as well by interacting with them, but by the time the trip was over, we felt like we made some headway."