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Members of the Afghan air force, alongside advisors from the NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan, welcomed 29 newly trained Afghan aircraft maintenance specialists in a graduation ceremony at Shindand Air Base. This class is the largest in the history of the Shindand Air Wing Maintenance Group, according to a March 23 base release. It's also the group's first class to graduate since September, states the release. To earn the certificates of completion and their maintenance badges, the Afghan students were required to accomplish on-the-job-training and demonstrate proficiency in basic maintenance tasks, such as pre-flight inspections, aircraft launch and recovery procedures, and lube and servicing inspections. "We've been in training for a long time, and now we know we are able to move on to the next step," said Lt. Col. Gul Ahmad, one of Afghan airmen who graduated on March 19. "I'm honored to get my certificate and badge today. My badge is something that I can wear with pride and that will be with me forever," he added. (Shindand report by Capt. Anastasia Wasem)