23 October 2010

10th Mountain Division Soldiers Train ANA Troops

Future ANA leaders are learning their trade with the help of instructors from the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.
In one of the most memorable presidential speeches ever given, U.S. President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation and spoke words that still strike a chord with many today, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Although born long after President Kennedy’s words were spoken and raised in a war-torn country thousands of miles from the United States of America, thousands of today’s young Afghan men are following Kennedy’s advice and stepping forward for their country by serving in the Afghan National Army.

To help them achieve success, a group of nearly 40 Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment spent the last nine months mentoring, instructing and assisting ANA leaders at the ANA’s basic training program at Camp Parsa.

The camp is located just outside of Camp Clark in eastern Khowst Province about 20 miles west of the Pakistan border. For the last four years, thousands of ANA soldiers attended training there to learn basic soldiering skills.

“Our mission is to directly support the Regional Based Warrior Training for the Afghan National Army,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class William Dunn, platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2-22 Infantry, and native of Salem, Mass. “The goal is to establish a sustainable education program and maintain capable training support systems to assist in the development and growth of the ANA.”

The challenging mission consists of a partnership between the U.S. Soldiers and the RBWT’s battalion commander, battalion sergeant major, company commanders and first sergeants who are responsible for the training of new ANA recruits during their eight-week basic training cycle at Camp Parsa.

During each cycle, U.S. Soldiers spend the majority of their time with the ANA leadership elements advising, instructing, training, coaching, developing and helping them overcome any problems they run into along the way.

“We help them with everything from initial logistic issues through the entire scope of training,” said Dunn. “We try to spend as much time with them as possible, shoulder to shoulder, so they can see and learn our procedures and techniques. We not only show them how to make on-the-spot corrections, we also do a lot of demonstrations, such as proper squad formations and movement drills.”

Each class of recruits contains about 600 Afghans. The training starts off with the basics and becomes more advanced each week.

“The first couple of weeks covers basic soldiering skills, weapons immersion with the M16A2 rifle, cultural classes and generally gives the new students an overall welcome to the ANA,” said Dunn. “After that, they begin learning how to use buddy teams. From there the training advances to squad movements such as reacting to ambushes and squad attack techniques. The highlights of the training are basic rifle marksmanship and live-fire exercises.”

Although Dunn and his team seem to be making progress with leadership development, the team still faces its share of obstacles.

“One of the main challenges we have is logistical difficulties due to the distance from here to the ANA’s main supply base in Gardez,” said Dunn. “Another challenge is trying to introduce technology to the leadership, because many of them never even used a computer before.”

Despite those challenges and others, Dunn said he enjoys the mission.

“This is a rewarding job for a couple of different reasons,” he said. “One is we are helping build the Afghan army from the ground up. Secondly, every eight weeks we see the ANA soldiers graduate, and we know they are going off to serve their country by either protecting the border, providing security for their villages or supporting their government. What they do is making a difference for the future of Afghanistan and we have had a part in that.”
By: Shelldrake

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