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    Teaching the King of Battle

    Teaching the King of Battle

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Saslav | Afghan National Army (ANA) Sgt. Ali Akbar, an artillery soldier with the 201st Corps,...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav 

    129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – “Two or three years ago, nobody cared about artillery,” said Afghan National Army 1st. Lt. Maqbool Siadkheli, instructor, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army, as he looked around a room full of ANA soldiers. “Now everybody realizes what artillery means for them, everybody wants artillery.”

    It is a small spartan classroom; a few tables and chairs, a projector and a dry erase board. But for the ANA’s 201st Corps, what is being taught inside is very important. It is a refresher course for the Corps’s field artillery soldiers and it is being taught by Siadkheli and other ANA instructors.

    “We are supporting our field brothers … we are supporting the infantry, whenever they go out on missions,” Siakheli, stressed to his students. “Artillery is the king of battle, if there is no artillery for the infantry, then they can’t do their mission. The Coalition Forces will not be here after 2014 [in a combat role].”

    Standing in the back of the classroom were Coalition Forces’ troops; U.S. Army Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team,10th Mountain Division’s D-30 Mobile Field Artillery Training Team.

    “The teachers are qualified teachers,” said 1st Lt. Adam Roberts, platoon leader, 5th Bn, “the instructors have a baseline knowledge of field artillery… but they are not experts. They are teaching, which is a good thing… they are getting better at the material.”

    The American’s mission is simple; the Afghan’s teach the material and they make sure that everything is covered correctly.

    “Knowing the information and being able to teach the information are two different things,” said Roberts, a native of Rockledge, Fla., “we’re trying to build them up as instructors, [so they can] relay the information to students a little better.”

    This is a fledgling course. For example, this is the third class that Siadkheli has taught and for his fellow instructor, 1st Lt. Yousaf Sani, it is his first. Many of the ANA students have varying degrees of literacy.

    “[We] have a literacy class for those who are not educated,” said Siadkheli, “After they pass [the literacy class], I am going to teach them how to use the gun.”

    Both forces use the same doctrine; it is the equipment that is different and this makes for some differences in the way artillery fire missions are carried out.

    The ANA uses the D-30 howitzer; this is an older Soviet weapon, developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It doesn’t have as many features as modern American artillery pieces, such as a way to measure the velocity of the shells as they leave the barrel. This is something that can affect the accuracy of each round being fired.

    Firing artillery is more than pointing the cannon at a target you can see and pulling the lanyard.

    In modern warfare to safely and accurately employ artillery you need three basic things; a forward observer who is responsible for identifying the target and its location, while knowing the location of himself and other friendly forces so the incoming rounds do not land on them. The fire direction controller, who receives the information from the F.O. and quickly calculates and translates the information into accurate data before sending it to the gun crew who actually fires the shell.

    The ANA is currently combating the enemies of Afghanistan, who, while they do have rockets and mortors, lack large artillery pieces of their own.

    Because Afghanistan is a mountainous country and the Afghan National Air Force lacks the ability to provide fire support, this in many cases, leaves the artillery to provide the only support possible.

    Soldiers in the U.S. Army receive seven weeks of training before they can become certified in their respective jobs in the artillery field. In the Afghan Army, this training was compressed into four weeks, before expanding to six. During the month long Muslim holiday of Ramazan, the ANA soldiers only trained for two hours a day. So Roberts and his Soldiers suggested to Siadkheli, and the other ANA instructors, they test the soldiers to see how they are progressing in the course.

    The results were mixed.

    All of the ANA soldiers in the FDC course passed the test.

    Five out of six soldiers on the gun line and survey teams passed the course.

    For the forward observers, the results were less than satisfactory; only two out of seven students passed both land navigation and call for fire sections of the exam.

    For the instructors, both ANA and U.S., this meant that there was a lot more work to do. Roberts and his team suggested that due to Ramazan, the course should be extended for another few weeks. This would ensure that the students would receive all the training they need. If the students still do not pass, the ANA commander has promised not to graduate them and send them back through the course.

    The next day, when Roberts and his team arrived at the school, they found the ANA students and instructors had arrived early and were already going over the material that had given them trouble.
    The ANA were not happy with their performance on the test.



    Date Taken: 08.12.2013
    Date Posted: 08.19.2013 12:41
    Story ID: 112210
    Hometown: ROCKLEDGE, FL, US

    Web Views: 197
    Downloads: 0