News: 307th Engineers assume teaching role during partnership operations
Story by 1st Lt. Alessandra Braun
SHINDAND AIR BASE, Afghanistan – Afghanistan is changing, and so is the way U.S. and coalition forces are fighting and maneuvering on the battlefield. The 704th Clearance Company, 307th Engineer Battalion, Task Force SAW, Arkansas Reserves, has been conducting route clearance and partnership operations since they arrived in Regional Command West in January 2013.
“Today’s battlefield presents a unique challenge and environment for units on the ground,” says Capt. Joshua Yarbrough, commander of 704th Clearance Company.
The 704th has not only embraced their current mission, but they have gone above and beyond to also train Afghan soldiers on their clearance techniques. One U.S. soldier in particular has taken his job to heart.
Spc. Anthony along with the rest of 704th Clearance Company and TF SAW has spent the better part of his deployment preparing the Afghan National Security Forces to take the lead on operations in Afghanistan. Part of this fight is recognizing the significant role that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) play on the battlefield. This was the driving force behind their decision to incorporate the counter-IED fight into their training.
Shortly after arriving into theater TF SAW assessed that there was a knowledge gap when it came to the IED fight. In order to remedy this and make them more successful, they decided to add it to their curriculum.
U.S. Army Spc. Ryan Anthony, a native of Blackfoot, Idaho, was invited by the senior military adviser to the 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) to train the Afghan unit on the mine detector equipment they were recently issued.
The 4th Kandak is commanded by Major Baba Khan Adel, and the adviser team assigned to train the ANCOP unit is known as the 4/3 ANCOP.
Their main mission is to train the Afghan police on the proper use of their medical, communications, weapons, and navigational equipment.
Spc. Anthony explained the capabilities of the handheld mine detection equipment to the Afghans. He covered the procedures for using the mine detectors, what to do when the detector finds a metallic signature, and how to properly mark the area once a metallic signature is confirmed.
Following the class, Anthony set up a training lane so the Afghans could practice their new skills. He buried practice material to simulate IED components. Spc. Anthony took a hands-on approach to his class and asked the soldiers for feedback. He recognized the importance of tailoring the class to them and maximizing their experiences.
The Afghans also contributed to the lesson and brought IED components they had found over the course of their own deployment. This added a realistic element to the training and gave them an opportunity to share and apply their lessons learned from out on the road.
Once Anthony set up the practice lane, each soldier practiced his sweep technique, marking procedures, and worked to improve his situational awareness. Anthony also taught them how to signal to each other once they found an emplaced mine or improvised explosive device. After each soldier received a chance to practice on the training lane, he revealed the locations of all of the IEDs.
Those involved viewed the event as such a success that the 4/3 ANCOP even requested Anthony provide additional equipment training for the young Afghan engineer unit.
Anthony was able to bridge the cultural divide and provide quality training. He demonstrated the true qualities of an excellent teacher through his encouragement and patience.
Spc. Anthony found the key to success in partnership operations. Relationships are forged on a personal level, and it is soldiers like Anthony who help determine the strength of those relationships.