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    Afghan-US Driving Academy Graduates First Class



    Courtesy Story

    129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Six members of the Afghan National Army were recognized as the first graduating class of the Afghan National Security Forces Driver’s Academy at a ceremony held Thursday morning on Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan.

    The six ANA soldiers earned certificates and praise from their U.S. Army instructors, as well as from the commander of the U.S. Army’s 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Lt. Col. Daniel K. Rickleff and the Afghan National Army’s 6th Forward Supply Depot, 215th Maiwand Corps Commander, Col. Jalaludin.

    The academy is a partnership between the Army’s 129th CSSB and the Afghan National Army, and focuses on teaching the basics of tractor-trailer and material handling equipment operation. The initial class started in September and the program culminated with the awards ceremony and a combined cook-out at the training site.

    The academy is designed to not only increase the logistics capabilities of the Afghan National Security Force, but to also place Afghans into training roles that will exponentially grow their force.

    Those selected as trainers will now partner with the soldiers of the 129th CSSB in training other ANA soldiers.

    “This is quite an accomplishment,” said Lt. Col. Rickleff as he addressed the graduates. “You should all feel very proud of what you have accomplished. Some of you have gone above and beyond and have been selected as trainers of others. Congratulations to all of you.”

    Four soldiers from the 129th CSSB built the program from the ground up, developing the program of instruction, leading the ANA soldiers in everything from hand and arm signals to proper maintenance, and instructing basic and advanced handling of 4K forklifts, 10K forklifts, and M915 tractor-trailers. The instructors and students both overcame many challenges en route to today’s award ceremony.

    “This is my third deployment, but I’ve never been an instructor before this,” said Sgt. Jorge Leiva, a member of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 212th Transportation Company of Chattanooga, Tenn. “The language barrier was the biggest challenge, but the interpreters were great.”

    Leiva joined Sgt. Shane Smith from the 541st Transportation Company out of Fort Campbell, Ky., as an instructor on the M915 semi-trailer truck. They were joined by Sgt. Spencer Pittman and Spc. Thomas Dew, two material handling equipment specialists from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 849th Quartermaster Company of Rocky Mount, N.C.

    They toiled together to train their Afghan counterparts, but the partnership is much more than teaching somebody how to drive a truck or forklift.

    “I came out and observed the training going on and saw that these soldiers were very engaged in what they were doing and really enjoyed it,” said Lt. Col. Rickleff. “I believe they have all grown as leaders and they have built a relationship between the United States and Afghanistan that will be everlasting.”

    After receiving their diplomas, the graduates expressed their gratitude toward their trainers as well.

    “You had to twist the ear of the donkey to start the only thing I had ever driven before this training,” said academy graduate Abdul Ghafar. “I thank you for teaching us this skill and hope that I am good as you to teach others.”

    Now that the initial class has graduated, the trainers are looking for their next group of students, and the 129th is looking at ways to expand the training into other areas.

    “We will be looking at additional training opportunities between the ANA and the 129th,” said Lt. Col. Rickleff. “We would like to see training on computers, maintenance and ways to teach additional skill sets such as welding and food service. We are looking at the added value and how to enhance the ANA. I am really glad to be a part of this and today’s ceremony was one of the greatest things I have had the opportunity to be a part of since arriving in Afghanistan.”

    The 129th CSSB is the primary U.S. Army logistical unit in Regional Command-Southwest and is made up of five subordinate companies from the regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard, currently providing transportation, maintenance, and supply support throughout Helmand province.



    Date Taken: 12.09.2010
    Date Posted: 12.17.2010 08:17
    Story ID: 62154

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