Friday, October 19, 2007

Afghan NCOs Take Lead at Basic Warrior Training

Source: DVIDSHub.

18 Sept 07
by Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr.
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Public Affairs.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghans lead best when in the lead and in the Basic Warrior Training Course at the Kabul Military Training Center, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of Afghan drill sergeants. The mentors call this progress. They describe their jobs as being only temporary – the goal is for the Afghans to take charge in all facets of their army with coalition forces acting in a supporting role or as an enabler.

The Afghan national army leaders have “improved a lot on tactics and leadership,” said Army Master Sgt. Roberto Garcia, a senior mentor at KMTC. “They still have a long way to go … but they are hard workers and they work a lot of hours.”

Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan mentors assigned to BWT in the past have seen their jobs go from dominant in the training and development of ANA soldiers to more of a supporting and advisory role to ANA non-commissioned officers and officers at KMTC. The new soldiers training at KMTC are experiencing this transition first-hand.

“NCOs are ready to take on the responsibility,” said Garcia, a drill sergeant assigned to the 218th Army National Guard Regiment’s Brigade Combat Team at KMTC. “It’s sometimes hard for us to (step back), but we have to remember that we have to be patient. We just have to realize that our military has been around and developing for over 200 years. We can’t expect (for theirs to develop) in five years.”

The senior mentor to the ANA Advanced Combat Training brigade commander, Army Lt. Col. Daniel A. West, echoed Garcia’s perspective. “We can’t implement our system here,” said West, also a member of the 218th BCT. “They don’t have the same equipment or personnel in place.”

However, the ANA has implemented a training system in which their NCOs are increasingly at the helm. Soldiers are assigned to train new recruits at BWT, the NCOs are being trained to be drill sergeants and NCOs are training BWT graduates for further responsibilities and assignments within the army.

A new class of recruits begins BWT about every two weeks at KMTC, and NCOs are taking the lead at teaching course materials.

“It was mostly officers, mixed with some NCOs (teaching the classes). That’s what I saw when I got here,” Garcia said. Now it’s mostly the NCOs teaching, with officers occasionally helping out.

During a recent live-fire training exercise of ANA soldiers at KMTC, ANA NCO instructors oversaw soldiers in their initial firing of 82 mm mortars and Russian-made SPG-9s, which fire 73 mm grenades.

The exercise was the “smoothest since I’ve been here,” said Army Master Sgt. Anthony J. Harris, a senior NCO mentor for combat arms assigned to the 218th BCT. “They are pretty self-sufficient.”

The soldiers themselves are responding to the new ANA leadership.

“They’re always excited,” said Spc. Seth R. Hungiville, a weapons specialist with the 218th BCT. “There (are) a lot of similarities in how the soldiers are very fascinated with the weapons systems just like we are when we get to fire a new weapons system.”

Photo - An Afghan national army drill sergeant demonstrates weapon functions of an AK-47 to ANA soldiers during Basic Warrior Training at Kabul Military Training Center. Coalition soldiers assigned to the 218th Brigade Combat Team at KMTC mentor Afghan national army Basic Warrior Training drill sergeants. Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis P Valdespino Jr.

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