LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Coalition forces are focused on transferring skills and knowledge to Afghan National Army soldiers, and one of the most important things they can teach the ANA is how to defeat one of the enemy’s most enduring weapons: improvised explosive devices.
Soldiers from across the 201st ANA Corps took an important step in that endeavor when they graduated the Up Armored Medium Tactical Vehicle and Mine Roller New Equipment Training course at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Sept. 29.
“IEDs aren’t just a threat to (Coalition Forces and the Afghan National Army), but to the citizens of Afghanistan as well,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Barber, 201st Corps training advisor, 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot, from Springfield, Va. “This gives the ANA the ability to not just protect themselves but the people as well.”
A mine roller is an attachment that latches onto and extends from the front of a military vehicle. It has two sets of wheels that roll along the ground for the purpose of tripping IEDs. Its entire purpose is to get blown up so the soldiers and vehicles don’t.
201st Corps were attaching mine rollers to their humvees when they patrolled. The mine roller, however, proved to be too big for the trucks as it wreaked havoc on the vehicles’ transmissions.
In response, up armored medium tactical vehicles were brought in, vehicles designed with the mine roller in mind. Instructors from defense contractor Raytheon were also brought in to train the ANA on the new equipment.
The instructors split the course into two main components over five weeks. The first unit trained the ANA students on how to operate the UAMTV, a task made more interesting by the fact that this was the first time a few of the students had driven, ever.
“A lot of these soldiers are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the same living experiences we have as Americans,” said Raytheon instructor Terry Jones. “The ANA soldiers still picked up the training very quickly.”
The students also learned how to service the UAMTV and how to teach their fellow soldiers to do the same.
“The instructors have helped us a lot,” said ANA Sgt. Jamal al-deen. “Without their help we would not have successful missions, so I just want to thank them for their training and guidance.”
Once the soldiers graduated from the driving course, they moved on to the second part of the training that dealt with the mine roller itself.
In these lessons the students learned how to assemble the mine roller from its base parts, how to properly set it up, and how to maintain it. They also learned how to drive it while connected to the UAMTV.
“It’s very good. It’s awesome. Before the training, we didn’t know how to fix it or how to connect it or how to maintain it, but now I know what to do,” said ANA soldier Feteeh Allah.
The mine roller course itself is broken up into three different blocks of instruction: the mine roller operators course; the mine roller maintainers course; and what the instructors believe is the most important part of the training, the “Train the Trainer” block of instruction where the students become instructors themselves.
The plan is for the soldiers to not not only go back as UAMTV drivers for their units, it’s to send them back to the units as trainers who can put together their own classes and continue the transfer of skills and knowledge.
“Our job here is to work ourselves out of a job,” said Jones. “We need to get enough qualified trainers for the ANA to go back and be able to sustain this capability themselves and it’s something we look forward to.”