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Kansas Airman trains for TT mission

Master Sgt. Lesley Anderson pulls a needle out of a catheter tube after drawing blood from a vein in Capt. Joe Whittington’s arm during transition team training at Fort Riley, Kan. Sergeant Anderson is attending the 60-day, pre-deployment training from McConnell Air Force Base, and Captain Whittington is attending from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. (Photo by Army Master Sgt. Jack Lee)

Master Sgt. Lesley Anderson pulls a needle out of a catheter tube after drawing blood from a vein in Capt. Joe Whittington’s arm during transition team training at Fort Riley, Kan. Sergeant Anderson is attending the 60-day, pre-deployment training from McConnell Air Force Base, and Captain Whittington is attending from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. (Photo by Army Master Sgt. Jack Lee)

Sergeant Anderson searches for a patient’s vein before inserting a catheter tube into the person’s arm, so he can draw blood during transition team training at Fort Riley, Kan. Sergeant Anderson is attending the 60-day, pre-deployment training from McConnell Air Force Base. (Photo by Army Master Sgt. Jack Lee).

Sergeant Anderson searches for a patient’s vein before inserting a catheter tube into the person’s arm, so he can draw blood during transition team training at Fort Riley, Kan. Sergeant Anderson is attending the 60-day, pre-deployment training from McConnell Air Force Base. (Photo by Army Master Sgt. Jack Lee).

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- A McConnell Air Force Base Airman is braving the wilds here in transition team training and will eventually deploy to Afghanistan to begin his duties as an adviser.

Master Sgt. Lesley Anderson, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, is training with 33 other Air Force personnel in Military Transition Team Class 21 at Camp Funston who will soon deploy for 365 days.

"We train as a class, but don't deploy as a team as do our Army counterparts," Sergeant Anderson said.

Instead, Sergeant Anderson said he will most likely be farmed out to an adviser team in-country as a replacement.

"I want my time in Afghanistan to be spent assisting the Afghan National Army to gain confidence in their duties, so they can assume their own security," Sergeant Anderson said.

To help him be successful, Sergeant Anderson is in a 60-day training cycle and just completing the combat life-saving portion. Part of this class was administering an intravenous tube to a fellow classmate.
"I never thought I would get the opportunity to perform a saline lock," he said, adding it was just a small part of the CLS class. "I will leave here with a greater understanding of how to evaluate a casualty's need.

"Hopefully, I will never have to use it," he said, adding he is confident he can save a life with the training.

CLS is just one block of training Sergeant Anderson has received.

"I carry an M-4 carbine and wear an M-9 pistol. The tracking and mapping devices, language and cultural awareness classes, the team building exercises, the combat tactics ... well, it's not the norm for my Air Force career field," the sergeant said.

Not that he is complaining. Sergeant Anderson said he knows the training he is receiving at Fort Riley will add to his Air Force career.

At McConnell Sergeant Anderson is superintendent of the logistics compliance section.

"My section oversees all policies, programs and processes that are involved with the logistics readiness squadron," he said. "It's a desk-oriented job, much different than what I am doing here.

"I truly cherish this transition team experience, learning what I need to make my adviser role on deployment successful, hence, making the (Afghan National Army) successful," the sergeant said.

Sergeant Anderson, a 21-year veteran of the Air Force, has spent the last 12 years at McConnell. "I've been here so long that this has become home for me, and I will return here after my deployment -- and once I retire from the Air Force, eventually settle down here. My sons are here attending school, and they like the area. I am laying down roots," the sergeant laughed.

It hasn't always been that way.

Sergeant Anderson was born in Belize, graduated high school in Panama, and his parents currently live and work in Jamaica. This world traveler is taking his deployment to Afghanistan in stride. After all, this isn't his first deployment, having been deployed to Bosnia, Qatar and Bahrain.

Being a replacement does wear on Sergeant Anderson, though.

"Not knowing where I am going, who I am replacing or exactly what I will be doing is a bit unnerving," Sergeant Anderson said, but his commitment to the mission, the people around him and his sense of duty keeps him focused.

"I am here to do what I am ordered to do, and am very confident I am going to follow it through to the best of my ability.

"The instruction I've received is up-to-date and relevant to the mission," Sergeant Anderson said.

He said he is confident of the skills he's gained and is ready to continue building on the development that has already helped to stabilize Afghanistan.