News: Ill. National Guard and Polish soldiers train ANSF on US mortar system
Story by Staff Sgt. Bryan Spreitzer
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the early morning sun, a group of Polish and U.S. soldiers gathers for a mission to train the 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army. They receive their safety brief and seating assignments from the convoy commander and prepare to move.
It may not sound like a glamorous mission, but the Task Force White Eagle Military Advisor Team and two Illinois National Guardsmen assigned to Task Force White Eagle on the mission know that it must be done. The mission will increase the ANA’s capacity to provide security in the region and combat the enemies of Afghanistan in Ghazni.
U.S. Army Capt. Simon Wlodarski, Task Force White Eagle Afghan National Security Forces adviser of Chicago, Ill., and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Berry, Task Force White Eagle U.S. intelligence officer of Bloomington, Ill., prepare their gear and go over their training plan one more time before climbing into their armored vehicle. The men from Illinois are part of a 16-man team embedded within the Polish Land Forces in Afghanistan. Both soldiers were selected for this training by the Task Force White Eagle command staff because of their extensive experience with mortars.
“I was a mortar platoon sergeant for a long time before becoming an intelligence warrant officer.”, said Berry. “It’s nice to get back to the field and share my expertise and knowledge with the ANSF.”
The MAT, with the assistance of Berry and Wlodarski, trained 1st, 2nd, and Heavy Company, 1st Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 203rd Corps of the Afghan National Army. The training took place over a two week period and consisted of direct lay emplacement, trigger fire techniques, safety and misfire procedures; it was to culminate with a live-fire exercise.
The ANA started Operation Nijat III earlier than anticipated and cancelled the live fire. Though the live fire did not happen, the training was very well received.
Sgt. Abul Ghafar, the team sergeant for Heavy Company said, “This training was very useful. It will make us stronger as Heavy Company and more effective against the enemy.”
“We’re giving the ANA and ANSF tools to win here,” said Wlodarski. “White Eagle has been advising the 3rd Brigade for a long time, and their success is ever growing,” he continued.
U.S. Army Col. Owen Mueller, Task Force White Eagle U.S. ANSF development officer of Washington, Mo., believes the 3rd Brigade will continue to become more independent and provide security for the people.
“The coalition partners that have trained and advised here have seen incredible leaps forward from the ANA,” said Mueller. “We are confident that they will be able to secure their homes and the people in their province after the withdrawal in 2014.”