News: ISAF soldiers teach ANA public affairs
Story by Sgt. Antony Lee
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Seven Afghan soldiers with the 205th Hero Corps, Afghan National Army, recently completed a public affairs training course at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, provided by the Regional Command (South) Public Affairs Office.
The training was facilitated by the 4th Infantry Division and covered various skills the Afghan soldiers can use to tell the ANA’s story. Social media, photojournalism, broadcast journalism, video editing and print news stories were among the topics taught during the course, which took place Nov. 11-13.
Master Sergeant Craig Zentkovich, noncommissioned officer in-charge of RC(S) public affairs, said the training was a “basic” course for the ANA public affairs soldiers.
“It allows us to establish a baseline in order to conduct later advanced training,” he said. “But most importantly, it is an opportunity to work with and engage our Afghan partners.”
Zentkovich added that as Afghan troops continue to take the lead with the security of Afghanistan, “it’s imperative that we show them how to effectively communicate with Afghans.
“One of the most important aspects to this training is introducing them to social media and showing them how they can use that to spread the word about ANA successes,” he said.
Sergeant Eric Glassey, a public affairs operations NCO who manages various RC(S) social media outlets, spent the final day of the training doing just that – introducing ANA soldiers to Facebook.
“We helped them create two official Facebook pages for the 205th Hero Corps – one in Dari and the other in Pashto,” Glassey said. “This allows them to reach the majority of people in Afghanistan. Social media gives the ANA another tool to interact with the people they serve.”
Sergeant Baheg Shakrullah, a photographer in the 205th, said that through the training – specifically learning how to create video products and how to take photos – he gained “useful information.”
“If something important is happening, such as an achievement in the battlefield, we can make a video about it and the people gain awareness of what we are doing,” Shakrullah said.
First Sergeant Mohammad Saber of the 205th spoke about the strategic significance of public affairs.
“Public affairs is important because we publish news to the media,” he said. “For example, if something happens and enemies of Afghanistan have been captured or killed, we can present it to the media to tell the rest of the people.”
Saber said he was “happy” for the opportunity to learn and that he and his fellow ANA public affairs soldiers have learned a lot about how to communicate effectively.
At the end of the training, Lt. Col. M. Mohsin “Sultani,” the head of the 205th’s press office, thanked the RC(S) public affairs team on behalf of Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid, 205th Corps commander.
“We hope this relationship will continue,” he said.
His International Security Assistance Force counterpart, Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez – the RC(S) chief public affairs officer – said the training was the best experience the 4th Infantry Division public affairs office has had in Afghanistan.
“You, like us, tell the story of the Afghan soldier to the Afghan people,” he said in addressing the 205th Soldiers. “And the people will see – because of your pictures, videos and information – that the Army is
sacrificing for Afghanistan and for a better future.”
The public affairs training was the first of its kind – in which ANA soldiers came to KAF to train with their ISAF counterparts – since 2010.
“The training hasn’t been simple dictation; it has been interactive,” Zentkovich said. “We’ve bounced ideas off of them as they have done with us, and we’re all learning a little bit from each other.”