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Kent Herrmann - Toowoomba

Toowoomba's Kent Herrmann is in Afghanistan with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) advising the Afghan Air Force (AAF) as a Maintenance Advisor on Operation Highroad.

Embedded with the US-led Train Advise Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air) unit, Warrant Officer Class One Herrmann works within the coalition advisory team of mostly United States Air Force personnel providing critical mentoring support to the Afghan Air Force (AAF).

The father of three has spent most of his military career in various posting across Australia but said he still calls Toowoomba "home".

Joining the Army straight out of high school at just 17 years old, Warrant Officer Herrmann enlisted as an electronics technician before transferring to Army Aviation.

"I have always been interested in electronics and the Army apprenticeship gave me that opportunity," he said.

Over 25 years of service he has worked on UH-1 Iroquois helicopters and Bell 206B-1 Kiowa helicopters on peacekeeping missions in Bougainville and Timor Leste.

More recently he has worked on Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter – otherwise known as the "Tiger" – his favourite aircraft yet.

Currently posted to Swartz Barracks in Oakey, Warrant Officer Herrmann works in the Army Aviation Systems Program Office as a Contract Liaison Officer.

In Afghanistan, Warrant Officer Herrmann is passing on his years of aviation expertise to the Afghan Maintenance Squadron Commanders in a train, advise and assist (TAA) capacity.

Each day starts with the early morning maintenance meeting where the daily flight schedule and aircraft maintenance status is discussed with the AAF Maintenance Commander and senior leadership.

He said most of his TAA work is conducted on the flightline where he meets with the Afghan Maintenance team and contractors who keep the aircraft in working order.

"Through daily contact with the Afghan Maintenance Squadron Commanders we identify problems in daily operations and discuss ways to overcome them," he said.

Currently working through the fighting season, the maintainers are kept busy ensuring the aircraft remain serviceable to support Afghan National Defence and Security Forces operations through the delivery of air power.

Warrant Officer Herrmann said the end goal is to develop a professional, sustainable and capable air force that can operate without coalition support.

He believes that goal is within reach after witnessing the first ever recovery of a damaged A-29 Light Attack aircraft.

"The maintenance team deployed to the field and completed a temporary repair on the battle-damaged aircraft so that it could fly home for further service," he said.

"This was a significant achievement for AAF as it demonstrated their ability to operate on their own feet without the support of coalition forces."

He said that seeing progress such as this makes the job worth while.

"If I can leave here and see that I've helped the Afghans improve the way they do business, I think I will be happy," he said.

Half way through his deployment, Warrant Officer Herrmann is enjoying his experience working alongside the Afghans and coalition partners however said he is looking forward to returning home.

"I'll be home just in time to spend Christmas with my family in Toowoomba – I can't wait," he said.

There are about 270 ADF personnel deployed to Operation Highroad employed in various mentoring and advisory roles as well as in logistics, intelligence and medical support roles.

Operation Highroad is Australia's contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.