If U.S. forces are to depart Afghanistan, they are going to have to leave behind better police than they found there in 2001.
To that end, Senior Master Sgt. Jimmie J. Hughes, a member of the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, has done his nation a tremendous service by showing Afghan National Police “a better way.”
The 47-year-old noncommissioned officer from Thousand Oaks, Calif., will be presented today at Fairchild Air Force Base with the Bronze Star Medal for “exceptionally meritorious service.”
According to his citation, Hughes developed and fielded 17 mobile training teams and provided training to 54 police units while attached to the logistics embedded training team at Camp Eggers in Kabul under the command of the U.S. Army.
“Every time you change one person you change the society,” said Hughes.
Among the challenges he had to overcome in Afghanistan were a military in which officers did not even speak to noncommissioned officers and a top-down procurement system the Afghans inherited from the Soviet Union.
He said he had to convince Afghan security forces to think about what they needed and ask for it.
By the time he left in October 2009, “We actually had sergeant majors empowered to sign for a pair of boots,” Hughes said. “Before it might have taken 47 different signatures.”
He said he spent many hours on the road talking to Afghans and learning their culture before attempting to convince them “the new system was not only better, but would make them better, too.”
Hughes, who has served 24 1/2 years in the Air Force, has completed two tours in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq.
He will be presented with the Bronze Star by Col. Tom Bush, 92nd Air Refueling Wing vice commander, during a 3:30 p.m. ceremony in the Fairchild base theater.
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