From coordinating disaster relief to providing advice to the Afghan Air Force, one Australian Army officer has had a more than memorable 2019.
In February this year after the unprecedented weather event that effected northern and western Queensland, Major Tim Byrne found himself supporting the major disaster relief effort as the lead logistics planner of Joint Task Force 646.
Soon after he deployed as an airworthiness adviser to Kabul as part of the NATO-led Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air).
“Working with our coalition counterparts, what we achieved was to stand up an airworthiness framework for the Afghan Air Force so that they can manage their own aircraft in a safe and sustainable manner," Major Byrne said.
“At the moment for most of their aircraft, the airworthiness link is back to the United States, so if an operational commander makes a risk-based decision it has to be cleared back through international advisors and the contractor overseas."
TAAC-Air advisers have helped their Afghan counterparts implement a five-year plan that will form a robust framework for airworthiness in the future Afghan Air Force.
“I worked with two Afghan Air Force counterparts to define the needs of the five-year plan and ultimately they are very keen move forward. Our role was to provide advice and make sure they have access to the right resources," Major Byrne said.
“As an air force they have over 25 years’ experience flying and maintaining Mi-17’s and they are motivated in getting the maximum benefit out of their new generation of aircraft like the Black Hawk."
Major Byrne said the focus now was helping the Afghan Air Force to plan and execute missions, something it was doing right now.
“They are conducting airlift with helicopters, executing strikes with their A-29s and flying ISR with their AC-208s, that capability is only going to increase,” Major Byrne said.
Returning to his job as the principle logistics officer (Divisional Quartermaster) at the 16th Aviation Brigade, Major Byrne is an aeronautical engineer in the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
This was his first deployment to Middle East, previously having deployed to Timor Leste in 2012 with the Joint Task Force Headquarters.