From the frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Michael Lukesh
By Staff Sgt. Jason Barebo, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 26, 2010
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Part of a 43-person team assigned to the 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, Kabul Afghanistan, Tech. Sgt. Michael Lukesh, deployed from the 509th Maintenance Squadron here, performs more than just his primary duties during his deployment.
A B-2 maintainer by trade, Sergeant Lukesh performs as a C-27 contract quality assurance evaluator and Afghan National Army Air Corp flying crew chief advisor. Along with the other members of his team, Sergeant Lukesh is responsible for training of more than 4,000 ANAAC personnel. Training includes how to properly maintain and operate their fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 Hip and Mi-35 Hind E helicopters, An-32 Cline cargo planes and Italian-made C-27 Spartan airlift aircraft.
"During one of our training scenarios, we went out to a live fire range and conducted assaults on a simulated convoy," Sergeant Lukesh said. "Their helicopters would simulate an attack on our position once the forward air controllers called in the location."
He is also a quality assurance evaluator for a defense contractor to ensure they fulfill their contractual obligations and perform safe maintenance.
According to his leadership, Sergeant Lukesh has been instrumental in helping the Afghans double their Mi-17 fleet. He also has helped re-energize their Mi-35 gunship program and bed-down their first western-designed aircraft, the C-27 Spartan.
Sergeant Lukesh also performs convoy duties, ferrying passengers and cargo throughout Kabul City and travels to various forward operating bases on an as-needed basis.
"So far, we have assisted the ANAAC in flying more than 1,000 sorties delivering 12,000 passengers and 220 tons of cargo throughout Afghanistan," Sergeant Lukesh said. "We have hosted several high-ranking officials including Secretary of Defense The Honorable Robert M. Gates and the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal."
Currently the 440th AEAS is on-schedule preparing the Afghan's to independently operate their Air Corps before 2016, Sergeant Lukesh said.
"As of now, the Afghans have 45 military aircraft and less than 3,000 assigned personnel," Sergeant Lukesh, a native of Jamestown, R.I., said. "Those numbers are expected to grow to 154 aircraft and more than 8,000 personnel by 2016."
While performing his duties, Sergeant Lukesh has daily interactions with military forces from several different countries .
"I love seeing the different customs and courtesies of each military force," Sergeant Lukesh said. "It's also very different to need an interpreter for even the most basic interaction."