News: Afghan National Army senior enlisted host 4th Sergeants Major of the Army seminar
By U.S. Forces Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — Countless years of military experience were represented at the Kabul Military Training Center's auditorium as members of coalition forces and the Afghan national army kicked off the ANA Sergeants Major of the Army seminar Nov. 17-19. The event showcased the current development of the ANA bridmal (non-commissioned officers).
"Pieces of equipment, assets and training are important, but what really is important is the ANA's ability to take on the fight," said Maj. Gen. Robert W. Cone, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan commanding general. "With the ANA taking on two-thirds of the fight, the growth of the ANA is important."
The development of the ANA bridmal and "Shaping the future of the ANA" were principal themes of the seminar. More than 100 ANA and coalition sergeants major attended.
"This conference is important because it gives us the opportunity to discuss what works best," said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston. "Building a strong NCO corps, like in any other army, is the backbone of its army. Sergeants major's job is to provide the best training possible for their soldiers."
During the seminar, ANA command sergeants major showcased examples of the precision training being conducted for their fighting forces.
"Afghanistan is our country," said ANA Command Sgt. Maj. Ziaual Haq. "It is our duty to defend our country, to protect our people. Our army is able to conduct missions within our country. We have ordnance corps operating in the Takal Valley that are operating alone without the aid of coalition forces."
According to Cone, the size of the Afghan forces is growing dramatically. He said few armies have ever grown at such a phenomenal rate while at the same time taking on the challenges of fighting a hostile enemy on their own ground.
The ANA force currently stands at approximate 68,000 troops. Cone said he and ANA officials have fashioned a plan that would get to the 134,000 goal two years early by the summer of 2012 if he can get additional U.S. funding.
"We have improved greatly in the past year," said ANA Sgt. Maj. of the Army Roshan Safi. "We have a ways to go, but our combat abilities have improved dramatically. We have a great responsibility to our people."
Cone said the ANA is leading 62 percent of the operations they participate in.
"We owe to the Afghan army to provide them the best training we possibly can," said Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Coleman Jr., CSTC-A command sergeant major. "Progress is being made everyday in preparing the ANA to take the lead."
During the three days of discussions, meetings and demonstrations, members of the ANA showed their ability to field new equipment such as the up-armored Humvee, the M-2 .50 caliber machine gun and the Mi-17 helicopter. Six demonstration sites were set up to allow the ANA soldiers to show their mastery of the new equipment.
"Our leadership and training will make the difference," said Roshan. "We are fighting for our people. We fight for every province, all 34 of them."