News: Building working relationships in eastern Afghanistan
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the 661st Engineer Company took over the horizontal engineer mission on Forward Operating Base Shank, they also entered into a construction partnership with Afghan National Army’s engineers.
This partnership, which was started by the 877th Eng. Company, TF Dolch, TF Sword, was handed off with a decent amount of military engineer knowledge already given to the ANA engineers.
Afghan Lt. Col. Malikidin 4/203 Engineer Company, ANA commander, explained the importance of partnership training, “Any type of engineer training [the U.S. Army] can provide to my soldiers is very important for us. Bridge and road construction training are especially important for our future, so that we can repair these structures ourselves, when and if the need arises.”
Building upon the training they have already received, the ANA engineers are in the process of developing a training plan with the 661st Eng. Company. The current plan will ultimately enable the ANA to conduct construction projects from basic construction design to project completion.
Although the teaching role the 661st Eng. Company found itself in is not what they expected prior to deploying to Afghanistan, U.S. Army Capt. Martin Massey from Robinson, Ill., the 661st Eng. Company commander, made clear his soldiers are excited about their mission.
“I had heard about it but didn’t have much information. I’d just heard that ANA partnership was a big priority, but didn’t know exactly how that would fit into the big picture … We thought we would be doing more horizontal construction and crater repair, ” explained Massey.
Massey continued, “I think it’s something they can walk away from and say ‘we helped train these soldiers,’ and it’s almost tangible to say, ‘look what we’ve been able to do’. Not only have we built these structures … but we’ve trained these people to do the job that we were doing so that they can sustain themselves.’”
Soon the soldiers of the 661st Eng. Company will begin working with ANA engineers on FOB Shank and several other combat outposts in the area.
Then over the course of the next year, both sides will work hard to prepare the ANA engineers to take the lead in rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan.