FORWARD OPERATING BASE MARJAH, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MARJAH, Afghanistan -- Since November 2010, the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment advisor team has been guiding and teaching Afghan National Army soldiers here.
The advisor team has spent the months following their arrival teaching ANA soldiers land navigation, radio, communication and marksmanship skills, counter improvised explosive device measures, and how to patrol.
“The ANA has really improved in taking pride in what they do,” said Sgt. Steven M. Cheek, Jr., a squad leader instructor for the 3/9 advisor team, and native of Augusta, Ga. “Once the soldiers started learning, they didn’t want to stop, and they picked up on what the Marines were doing very quickly.”
Upon arrival of the advisor team, Marines learned the ANA had little knowledge of managing their own logistics. In response, Marines began teaching these skills in addition to the basic infantry skills the soldiers were already learning.
“The biggest issue for us was the ANA being worn out and demotivated when we first got here,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Hood, a squad leader instructor for the 3/9 advisor team, from Denver. “The new [vacation] rotation started by the advisor team, in addition to getting their logistics on track, has their enthusiasm way up.”
Advisor team Marines have successfully fixed logistical issues such as food, water and pay distribution within the ANA.
According to Hood, the ANA soldiers’ morale has vastly improved since 3/9 helped them fix their logistical issues, which in return has made them more eager to work and learn. The advisor team Marines fixed these problems by showing Afghans how to manage their own affairs and keeping them organized.
The advisor team Marines have also held courses, such as the Squad Leader Course and the Radio Operator Course, to improve other aspects of the Afghan military skills and proficiency.
“The ANA are now leading patrols by themselves without Marine assistance,” Hood said. “ Tactically they are fully capable.”
In the upcoming weeks, the advisor team, as well as the rest of 3/9, will be relieved in Marjah, and a new advisor team will take over working with the ANA.
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This work, Marine Advisor Team Trains Afghans to Lead Themselves, by Cpl Daniel Wulz, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.