News: Combat support training key to ANA success
Story by Spc. Ken Scar
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Sgt. Jeremy Truelove is teaching Afghan soldiers everything he knows about vehicle repairs. His goal - work himself out of a job so that he and his fellow American service members don’t have to come back to Afghanistan.
Truelove, from Quapaw, Okla., is the maintenance shop foreman at Forward Operating Base Tillman. A veteran of two tours in Iraq and now one in Afghanistan, he is instructing an advanced individual training course for his Afghan National Army partners so they can keep their vehicles running without him.
It’s been challenging, said Truelove, because most of the soldiers the ANA have been sending him have no prior experience in auto mechanics.
“The ANA guys they send here are just drivers, they’re not mechanics – so I’m teaching them everything about the trucks,” he said.
Working with the ANA has its challenges, particularly with consistent training attendance, said Truelove, but it is also rewarding. There is a good-sized group that have been attending consistently, he said, and those soldiers are acquiring skills rapidly.
“They’re getting pretty proficient. We still have to walk them through a little bit, but if the ANA keep sending the same guys, they’re going to get pretty good. If I can get the [Afghan Border Police] to keep the same guys coming they’ll get really good too.”
Truelove’s course is just one of several training courses the U.S. soldiers of FOB Tillman have arranged for their Afghan comrades.
A few hundred feet away, on the other side of one of the hundreds of Hesco barriers here, Sgt. Kane Strait from Lake Elsinore, Calif., teaches ANA and ABP personnel how to be medical first responders.
The ones that complete his three-week class receive combat lifesaver course certificates, just like U.S. soldiers do. Once enough of them have been certified, he said, it will only be a matter of getting their supply lines running smoothly and they won’t need American help at all.
“We’re going to hook them up with things like CLS bags so they’ll have everything they need once they don’t have us here,” said Strait.
After that, he said, it’s up to them to wean themselves off the U.S. support system.
For their part, the ANA and ABP soldiers say they enjoy the classes.
“We have good conversations,” said Sayab Kahn, an ANA soldier in one of Truelove’s mechanics classes. “These are good guys – especially Sgt. Truelove.”
“The ANA does teach first aid,” said Ikram Ud Din, an ANA soldier in one of Strait’s first aid classes. “But it is only in a strict classroom environment. It’s not hands-on like we do here.”
The partnership training at FOB Tillman supports the goal of making the Afghan National Security Forces self-reliant and able to perform the necessary functions to operate independently as professional organizations.
“The U.S. is doing our part, teaching these guys to be self efficient so that when we leave here we don’t have to come back. It should be a one shot, one kill-type deal,” said Truelove.
With the support and instruction from the soldiers at FOB Tillman, the Afghan National Security Forces here are making progress through hands-on, performance-based training.