An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pope Field logistician mentored high-ranking officials in Afghan national police

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Crown
  • 43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs
Being a young Airman tasked to mentor high ranking officials of the Afghan National Police Force and supervising 52 local nationals while deployed to Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan can seem overwhelming.

Senior Airman Thomas Ballew, 43rd Logistic Readiness Squadron, mentored a Colonel, Major and 1st Lt in the logistical department of the ANP. He was also responsible for 52 local nationals and instructing them in day-to-day operations. His mission was to advise and mentor the ANP at the Interim Logistics Facility, which is the national supply depot for all the ANP across Afghanistan.

"We were training them so that they could eventually operate the facility on their own without the help of Coalition Forces," said Airman Ballew. "Since the '70s when the facility first opened, there was never a time that someone was not overseeing the operations, from the Russians, to the Taliban, to Coalition Forces. Setting them up to operate on their own was a big job with high visibility."

Establishing the procedures was one of the biggest tasks Airman Ballew faced while deployed. There weren't any set procedures when Airman Ballew arrived in Kabul. He and the other members he was deployed with had to write their own manuals.

"At home there's a set way you do things, an Air Force manual to guide you through everything," said Airman Ballew. "In Afghanistan we were setting the standard and writing our own manuals for the ANP to use."

One project Airman Ballew and his team worked on was providing materials other ANP facilities and the logistics transporting the items to different locations.

"We established a system that would field equipment to ANP across Afghanistan and provide the Ministry of Interior accurate accountability of their assets," said Airman Ballew. "Those things seemed impossible to do and were completely lacking when we first started our tour there, but we got it done."

Working on supplying the ANP took Airman Ballew outside-the-wire on multiple occasions. That was very different from his first deployment to Ali Air Base, Iraq where he was a third country national escort.

"Last time I had deployed I was on TCN duty, so I just watched people work," said Airman Ballew. "This deployment I worked with the local nationals and had to do a lot work above my pay grade. This job also included going outside-the-wire on a daily basis. I was the lead driver for our convoy, and I had 442 missions outside-the-wire in hostile terrain, with zero casualties and minimal incidents."

It is the best job Airman Ballew has had so far in his Air Force career. According to him the experience and rewards of knowing that he directly had an impact on people's lives, in a positive way, was a great feeling.

"I can't say enough about the work we did. There were so many positive impacts, but most importantly setting up the ANP for success, so that they can better support themselves and better protect the people of Afghanistan," said Airman Ballew. "They really care about their country and they worked really hard for me so that we could help rebuild together."

Airman Ballew was also able to make an impact on the local community. He helped provide humanitarian aid to three all-girl schools that had been attacked by suicide bombers in the past and provided food and water for a local celebration in Kabul.

"I had so many opportunities to help make a difference for not only the Security Forces of Afghanistan, but also the people," said Airman Ballew.

Airman Ballew was a valued member of his team and the volunteer work he accomplished reflected well on the unit according to his flight commander Captain Paul Capon, 100th Logistic Readiness Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall.

"Airman Ballew's stellar performance demonstrated leadership skills, far above his pay grade and helped establish the long term logistics infrastructure that will be used by the Afghan National Police for years to come," said Captain Paul Capon.