News: ANA engineers bridging to self-sufficiency
Story by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps engineering group learned the proper technique for building a bridge with the help of their British mentors at Camp Bastion Jan. 30.
Using this bridge, which is built with manpower instead of mechanical equipment, makes it much easier to implement during operations in the remote regions of Afghanistan where equipment cannot be easily moved.
“This morning we took the Afghan engineers through a non-equipment bridge, it’s the most basic of all engineer bridges using the simplest of materials,” said Lance Cpl. Glyn Foerster, a combat engineer with the Brigade Advisory Group. “They haven’t done it before, so today was a bit of a learning curve for them. It’s quite important for them to learn, because it uses such simple materials it’s something they are likely to do again and again.”
As the mentors from the BAG teach the Afghan engineers more and more, their ability to operate independently increases. The teaching method is geared more toward hands-on training utilizing skills required for the mission they are currently training for.
“We’ve showed them step-by-step this time, the next step is to build [a bridge] on an operation and then after that, hopefully they will have the experience to go out on their own and build these bridges without International Security Assistance Force help,” said Foerster, 25, from Congleton, U.K.
Working through the language barrier is the most difficult task for the mentors.
“They have never done anything like it before. You have to kind of just describe things,” Foerster said. “They did well this morning. We took them on another bridge a few days ago and they were a lot less interested, but I think the sergeants and commanders got a lot better grip on them today.”
As the BAG performs more operations with the ANA, they are beginning to pass on more and more responsibilities. During this task, the mentor group is easing the ANA engineers into resourcing their own projects. Resourcing their own projects exponentially increases the amount of planning and preparation needed, giving the ANA a better understanding of how to operate on their own and what will be required for them to complete missions when required.
“Hopefully the more operations we do the more of a feel they will get for what they need to take out on operations. Soon we will be able to lean a little bit more heavily on them coming up with the ideas rather than us telling them,” said Foerster.
The Afghan engineers are excited to see the progress they have made and hope for the best in the future.
“I’ve been an engineer since I came to Camp Shorabak and I really like what I am learning to do here,” said Allahmohamad, an engineer from the ANA’s 215th Corps. “We can make these bridges without the help of our mentors and it will be something that we use later on as we take larger roles in operations.”