News: Afghan Army engineers develop heavy equipment operations
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan – A group of Afghan National Army soldiers are training to become the first licensed heavy equipment operators in the ANA.
Fifteen soldiers from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, are learning from Marine advisors how to operate backhoes, bulldozers, road graders and dump trucks. Concurrently, ANA leadership is training to run a licensing program themselves.
Sergeant Charles Norris, engineering operations chief, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, designed the course. He’s an experienced heavy equipment licenser for the Marine Corps and says he’s impressed with the soldiers’ skill levels and enthusiasm for learning.
“They adapt really quick,” Norris, from Mansfield, Ohio said. “They are fast learners and are always requesting more information.”
Fourth Kandak, where all the trainees are from, is responsible for providing the five other kandaks in the brigade with engineering, reconnaissance and artillery support. A kandak is roughly 500 soldiers.
The kandak’s commander, Lt. Col. Shir Ali, observed some of the training his soldiers were doing with Marine advisors, June 21. He watched as operators did preventative maintenance inspections on the equipment, and worked through a series of training exercises designed to familiarize the soldiers with how to operate the machinery.
“I saw good stuff today,” Ali said. “I am really happy.”
Ali spoke to his soldiers during a formation telling them to listen to the Marine instructors, focus on training hard and make safety a priority.
About half of the soldiers came to the course as experienced operators, having constructed small operating bases and checkpoints along road routes. The other half of soldiers has never touched heavy equipment before.
This training is designed to make them job experts, said Norris. With no official certification process in the past, many soldiers only claimed to be experienced operators, he said.
Muhmmad Stullah is one of the most senior operators in the class. He says that even with his knowledge, he’s eager to learn more and wants to earn a license. He added that it’s a job he enjoys and something he may pursue as a contractor if he gets out of the army.
Prior to joining he was a commercial painter, but joined the ANA to serve his country when contracts dried up.
Marine Capt. William Kennedy, 4th Kandak Advisor Team leader, says the kandak operated independently many times prior to this course. They’ve already constructed more than 14 checkpoints with no help from Marine advisors. Kennedy says his team didn’t help with planning the missions, supplying the materials or moving the equipment into place.
This course is another step toward a more professional army.
During the last week of the course, Norris says he and his team will work more closely with the ANA licensing officer and two licensing examiners to finishing building the program. He says the ANA lieutenant who will be running the program has expressed a strong desire to make the course successful. He’s been asking a lot of questions and taking a lot of notes, Norris said.
Kennedy says all of the 4th Kandak’s soldiers have a strong will to succeed. Even though they’re operating in a dangerous environment, often being shot at or coming across improvised explosive devices, “they keep on trucking.”
Date Posted:06.21.2012 11:32
Location:FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, AF
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