News: An Afghan-sustainable solution
Story by Sgt. Eric Provost
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A few short years ago, if Afghan National Security Forces needed something to support their fight against the enemies of Afghanistan, coalition forces provided it.
That relationship has changed.
Units no longer deploy to Afghanistan as combat suppliers but as combat advisers to the ANSF. A large part of the advisement mission is to assist Afghan soldiers in finding their own way to get the Afghan National Army and police what they need.
“We can no longer do everything for them,” said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Noe Salinas, senior enlisted adviser, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot. “We have to find methods and techniques that are Afghan-sustainable.”
Salinas recently joined his counterpart, Command Sgt. Maj. Sayed Abu Talib, senior enlisted adviser, 201st Afghan National Army Corps, in assessing the state of medical operations on Forward Operating Base Gamberi.
“They have a relatively new clinic that’s clean and well kept. They have some pretty good equipment that’s been moved in, but they’re still missing a few key pieces of equipment to make it complete,” said U.S. Army Maj. David Waite, brigade surgeon, Task Force Patriot, who accompanied the assessment team.
The assessment will provide information the 201st Corps needs to make a plan for obtaining needed equipment. Sometimes the first steps can be taken just by asking the right question.
“The first thing they told me was they have medical instructors from Kabul and Kabul wants them back. They’re always fighting to keep the instructors here,” said Salinas. “So I asked him, ‘Where are our instructors from the 201st Corps? How come we haven’t certified any new instructors with these guys from Kabul?’”
Over the course of the conflict in Afghanistan, coalition forces have trained numerous ANSF troops in the skills they need to fight a war. With the new mission and a new generation coming up, it is now up to the Afghan soldiers and police to begin training their own soldiers and policemen with coalition troops shadowing the instructors.
Salinas knows Task Force Patriot still has a lot of work ahead.
“You can’t show up with a box of democracy one night and the next day everything is picture perfect,” said Salinas.
He remains confident in the potential of the ANSF and credits them with how far they’ve come.
“I think they’ve improved drastically when it comes to medical evacuations and providing basic first aid,” said Salinas. “They’re in the lead now and we have to give them credit for where they’re at.”
In the case of the clinic, the Afghans have already taken the lead to initiate some improvements. They recently purchased an X-ray machine and contracted a group of engineers in Kabul to service it.
The 201st Corps is also taking the lead when it comes to training. In addition to the clinic, the assessment team dropped in to check on a class of over 100 new ANSF medics being taught by the Afghan medical personnel on Gamberi.
“It gives me a good feeling to know there’s that much interest in it. Medics, no matter what country you’re in, are a valuable asset to any unit,” said Waite. “Everyone was very attentive, they had a lot of training aids to work with, but I still think there’s some improvement that can be had.”
Moving forward and trying to help facilitate those improvements, Salinas wants his soldiers to remember that their brigade is here to advise, assist, train, and inspire the Afghans to push forward.
“Too many times I think we try to make the solution an American solution. It’s just a different society. It’s a different set of rules and, in the end, it has to be something they can maintain,” said Salinas.