News: ANA, TF Strength soldiers conduct maintenance rodeo
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army and U.S. soldiers from 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force Strength competed in a maintenance rodeo on Camp Maiwand at Forward Operating Base Shank, July 11.
This competition comes on the heels of the material handling equipment rodeo between ANA and TF Strength in June. With the first competition being successful, TF Strength leaders seized the opportunity to re-engage their Afghan counterparts with another competition.
“Our colonel (U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Coston) decided that he wanted all of our companies to enhance partnership by competition, because he thought that would be fun for us and for the soldiers,” said U.S. Army Capt. Renee Michel, commander of Company B, 94th BSB, and native of Dayton, Ohio. “For our soldiers, being (from) a maintenance company, we focused on maintenance-related events. It was fun for soldiers on both sides.
The rodeo brought three events to the table along with some U.S. vs. ANA competition in the process.
The three events encompassed welding, automotive and weapons expertise, said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Stevens, the armorer non-commissioned officer-in-charge for Company B, 94th BSB, and Austin, Texas, native who participated in the competition.
“My event was the weapons event, and [with] the M-249 [Squad Automatic Weapon],” said Stevens. “We disassembled, reassembled and did a functions check and [finished] in the fastest time possible.”
Stevens said he was happy to be able to show his skill set in a friendly environment and came away from the competition knowing more about his ANA counterparts.
“It was a good time. I learned a lot about ... [ANA soldiers], and I hope they learned a lot about how we do business,” said Stevens. “I think it was a good event.”
Spc. Asadullah, an Afghan maintenance soldier assigned to 5th Kandak, 4th Brigade, 203rd ANA Corps, competed in the weapons event. Even with the lack of training on the weapon, Asadullah worked hard in a stressful environment and enjoyed himself in the process.
“We did training yesterday with the U.S. Army over here in the motor pool,” said Asadullah. “A mentor came down here for one day training before today’s competition.
“In this short time, I am feeling very happy that we had one-day training,” continued Asadullah. “We didn’t know about the parts of the weapons at all; but yesterday they trained us about assembling and reassembling, and they showed us every part of the weapon many times.”
U.S Army Spc. Chris Pierson, light wheel vehicle mechanic for Company B, 94th BSB and native of Houston, participated in the tire changing event and enjoyed competing with his Afghan partners.
“Today we performed four tire changes on a Ford Ranger,” said Pierson. “We were timed on our performance [and on] how fast we could take off the tire and put it back on. It was an overall competition to see who was the best.
“It was a fun experience, (...) [the ANA soldiers] seem like cool people,” continued Pierson. “I think the longer that we stay here and get a better relationship the better it will be.”
The tire-changing event was the only event during which the teams were switched around in mid-competition.
“We originally set up mixed teams of us and them, and then they decided they wanted a different competition of us vs. them, which they won. They were fantastic,” said Michel.
U.S. Army Pfc. William Partin, a light wheel vehicle mechanic for Company B, 94th BSB and native of Virginia Beach, Va., got down and dirty with the welding event; and just like everyone else, he came away having a great time during the competition.
“Me and an ANA partner welded together a pull-up bar,” said Partin. “It went pretty well. [The] language barrier was kind of difficult to get over, but I think we did all right.
“It’s all part of the job,” continued Partin. “As long as there is some kind of communication ... I’m sure we can knock out any task.”
Participants from the U.S. and ANA side each received certificates of achievement for competing in the events.
“Events like this that combine training and fun are great to build relationships, because all the soldiers want to get involved,” said Michel. “I noticed today they were really excited about what they were doing.”
“It was not only a competition,” said Asadullah. “It was also training for us, and it was good friendship between two counterparts.”