March 16, 2013
United States Army Alaska
Story by Staff Sgt. Patricia McMurphy
The visit was part of the U. S Army Pacific commander's Theater Security Cooperation Plan to exchange information on best practices in aviation maintenance with other nations in Asia and the Pacific region.
The Nepalese officers toured the Fort Wainwright aviation units’ training sites, simulators and maintenance sites and the city of Fairbanks.
“This exchange is a personal initiative of the U.S. ambassador to Nepal (Peter W. Bodde) for enhancing the overall capabilities and readiness of the Nepalese army aviation forces to respond to emergencies within Nepal,” according to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Charles Wallace, the 16th CAB (Alaska) Aviation Maintenance Officer.
Leaders from the 16th CAB (briefed the Nepalese aviators on topics ranging from aviation’s role in the Army, to getting aircraft parts and the regulations governing how repairs are handled at different levels.
Wallace said this helped the Nepalese Army delegates and 16th CAB (AK) personnel gain a better understanding of aviation maintenance capabilities between the two countries and learn best practices to further their own capabilities.
“The exchange included the study of the functioning, training and structure of flying and maintenance practices in high altitude area operations focused on servicing and maintenance,” Wallace said.
“I personally gained a respect for the sense of mission accomplishment the Nepalese army aviators have,” he said. “We are worlds apart in many ways, but like us, they have dedicated people who want to do the right thing and get the job done.”
“Even though they are a relatively small military with a very constrained budget, they do what they must do to get their missions done,” Wallace said. “I enjoyed hearing some of the ways which they improvised to get the mission done. It was also interesting listening to their experiences in the Himalayas, especially on Mount Everest.”
The 16th CAB also conducted formal orientations in U.S. Army aviation maintenance doctrine and introduced their Nepalese counterparts to a more primitive and local form of transportation: dog sledding.
Col. Dipak Bastola, an aviation mechanic with the Nepalese army, said he enjoyed visiting Alaska and getting to know more about the 16th CAB and how the United States Army aviation units operate.
Bastola said his favorite part of the tour was the UH-60 Black Hawk aerial tour of the training areas down to the Northern Warfare Center’s Black Rapids Training site.
On the final day of the exchange, the Soldiers from the 16th CAB signed a string of colored [prayer] flags to be taken back to Nepal to be flown at the top of Mount Everest.
Bastola said he looks forward to more exchanges like this in the future and hopes to implement what he has learned back home in his own unit.