Kingsford graduate deploys to Afghanistan in air advisory role

KABUL, Afghanistan – Master Sgt. Luke A. Lucas, originally from Kingsford, is currently assigned to the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, at the Kabul International Airport in Kabul Afghanistan, serving on a one year deployment as the civil engineer adviser.

In this capacity, MSgt. Lucas is part of a 15-nation, 695-person NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan advisory team responsible for setting the conditions for a professional, independent, and sustainable Afghan Air Force that meets the security requirements of Afghanistan today and tomorrow.

Since his arrival in Dec. 2013, he has been instrumental in NATC-A’s commitment to improve resource stewardship, enhance capability development and accelerate integration with the Afghan National Army. To date, the men and women of NATC-A have successfully reduced the projected operating cost of the AAF by over $1.5 billion, increased maintenance training by over 430 percent trained the first AAF helicopter crews in Night Vision Goggle tactics, supported the ANA by moving over 1,500 injured soldiers from the battlefield to life-saving medical treatment, as well as a host of other first-ever accomplishments.

The NATC-A team is striving to accomplish a history-making feat in U.S. Air Force history by building and training a fully functional Afghan Air Force while concurrently engaged in combat operations.

In his capacity as the lead Afghan Air Force Civil Engineer advisor, MSgt Lucas has aided the Afghan Air Force Engineer section in identifying and prioritizing $19 million in infrastructure requirements throughout Afghanistan. In addition to travelling all over the country as part of a Mobile Advising Team, he has overseen construction projects totaling more than $550 million and was recently selected as the Wing Staff’s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter. Aside from his mentoring responsibilities, he also routinely performs convoy duties ferrying passengers and cargo throughout Kabul city and travels to various forward operating bases on an as-needed basis.

When asked about his current mission, he stated that, “I am honored to serve our country on this unique deployment that allows me to experience the Afghan culture and work with capable and proud men and women that are proudly serving their country on a daily basis. It has been an eye opening experience.”

MSgt Lucas is permanently assigned to the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., as the Superintendent of Readiness & Emergency Management.

Before deploying to Afghanistan, he completed several weeks of intensive pre-deployment training covering such topics as live-fire weapons operations; cultural awareness; convoy tactics; unexploded ordinance identification and mitigation; conversational Dari language, and hands-on evasive driving.

He is married to Crystal Lucas (daughter Haley) of Tucson, Ariz. He is the son of the late Clyde Lucas of Felch and Bonnie and Dion Tarsi of Kingsford. He is the proud brother of Jake Lucas and Dylan Tarsi of Kingsford and is a 2001 graduate of Kingsford High School,.

At present, the Afghan Air Force has 102 military aircraft and over 6,700 assigned personnel. Those numbers are expected to grow to 154 aircraft and over 7,801 personnel between now and 2016.