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    Team leader course helps ANA fight illiteracy

    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

    10.22.2010

    Courtesy Story

    ISAF Joint Command

    KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army 2nd Lt. Mohibullah keeps a note scrawled in Pashto of "pretty good" handwriting tacked to his office wall. It reads: "Until the headmaster returns, I have complete responsibility." The soldier who wrote the note had, a few days earlier, been completely illiterate.

    Mohibullah, the new commander of the Team Leader Course, who like many Afghans goes by only one name, keeps the note as a reminder of what can happen when uneducated soldiers are given an opportunity to learn.

    The four-week Team Leader Course is unique among the three non-commissioned officer training courses at Forward Operating Base Thunder in Paktiya province under the auspices of the ANA's 203rd Thunder Corps. Unlike the Battle Course, the Team Leader Course is not designed for ANA soldiers who have experience as NCOs, and unlike the 1U Course, it does not assume the students have had any prior education.

    The Team Leader Course is designed to prepare enlisted Afghan soldiers for their first taste of leadership. ANA officers choose 10 percent of their soldiers to attend the Team Leader Course at regional training centers like FOB Thunder. Upon graduating, the soldiers are eligible for promotion to sergeant and, eventually, higher non-commissioned officer ranks.

    "We're not just training [NCOs], we're creating them from Afghan soldiers," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Gary E. Smith, a training officer who oversees the training at FOB Thunder. "It's very analogous to what we do in our Army: same type of discipline standards, attention to detail and basic squad-leading skills."

    The Team Leader Course retrains ANA soldiers on basic soldiering skills, such as weapons qualification, and introduces them to NCO skills. The first week however, is dedicated to literacy.

    The literacy block consists of 36 hours of classroom training taught by retired ANA officers rehired as civilian instructors. The block includes instruction on the alphabets and basics of both Pashto and Dari, as Afghanistan contains millions of speakers of both languages. The instructors also teach basic mathematics, including multiplication, in the literacy section.

    The block is particularly significant to soldiers like Tajudin, who was forced to withdraw from school several years earlier due to economic problems.

    "This course is very important for us; it teaches us how to read and write," said Tajudin through an interpreter. Tajudin is one of more than 150 students in the current cycle of the Team Leader Course, which runs from Oct. 16 to Nov. 11. "A man who can't read or write can't read signs to know where he is going; if it is the right way or the wrong way. He doesn't know his name or his father's name. Now, we can write our names and know what way is the right way, and what way is the wrong way."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.22.2010
    Date Posted: 10.22.2010 04:14
    Story ID: 58603
    Location: KABUL, AF 

    Web Views: 43
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