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    ANA engineers clear ground through training

    ANA engineers clear ground through training

    Photo By Sgt. John Ortiz | Spc. Brandon C. Meuth, a native of Jerseyville, Ill., and member of the 661st Engineer...... read more read more

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, AFGHANISTAN

    02.04.2012

    Story by Sgt. John Ortiz 

    3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

    LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The sight and smell of exhaust poured into the air as heavy equipment operators moved back and forth scooping up and dumping hundreds of pounds of rock and soil. It was the fourth training day out of seven where Illinois National guardsmen partnered with Afghan National Army engineers to instruct, train, and towards the end of the week-long training, stand back and watch with a smile on their faces.

    “Seven days ago [the ANA] didn’t really know a whole lot about operating the equipment,” said Spc. Bryan S. Gash, a member of the Illinois Guard and currently living in Plainville, Ind. “They are very eager to learn, very motivated, and the progress made has been amazing.”

    Gash, a veteran of Afghanistan and member of the 661st Engineer Company, said he was lucky with the ANA Soldiers he was paired up with to train, because they quickly pick up the needed skills after a few quick lessons.

    “I didn’t expect I would be training the ANA when we first mobilized,” he said. “After I got back from leave, I was told that I would be on the partnership training team. It has been fun, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

    “My last deployment, I was partnered with the [Afghanistan National Police] to train and do combat patrols with them. It’s a huge difference between the police and these engineer soldiers because they are a lot more motivated,” he said. “There has just been such a huge improvement from where we started with them.”

    Starting in the classroom teaching basic hand and arm signals, the class moved outside for practical hands-on experience where the Illinois soldiers rode along with the ANA engineers instructing them what each button and lever does in the driver’s seat for seven different types of construction equipment.

    From dump trucks to skid loaders, back hoes and motor graters; the soldiers used a round robin format to ensure the ANA engineer soldiers were proficient in all the equipment.

    After a few short days, Gash stood by watching an ANA engineer operate a wheel loader scoop dirt into the bucket and dump it with hand and arm signals as his only instruction.

    “I have faith in [the ANA engineers] and they know what they are doing. I feel like I can sit back and just watch,” he said.

    The training and instruction provided by the soldiers with the 661st was a first for the ANA engineers, many of them who have never even operated automobiles, much less engineer equipment before.

    “We have not received this sort of training before because we didn’t have this opportunity,” said Afghanistan Sgt. Hasibullah, a member with the engineer company, 4th Kandak. “Learning how to use the equipment is great, because I can use my skills to better serve my people and my country.”

    Hasibullah, a six-year veteran of the ANA assigned to the 4th Brigade, 203rd Thunder Corps, said “through my job, we can asphalt the streets and rebuild our country after we learn how to use this equipment.”

    “We really appreciate these American soldiers for their training and help,” he said. “If we ask a question, they are happy to answer, if we make a mistake, they come and fix it and show us how not to make the mistake again. We have expert trainers.”

    “With their help and our new experience we can teach other soldiers how to use this equipment and in turn we can build for the future in each corner of Afghanistan,” said Hasibullah.

    For some of the trainers, training and partnering with the ANA engineers is more than just having them learn a new skill.
    “We are out here teaching them so they know how to maintain themselves when we leave,” said Spc. Brandon C. Meuth, a native of Jerseyville, Ill., and member of the 661st Engineer Company from Sparta, Ill.

    Meuth has been in the Army for two years and is on his first deployment. The first thing that impressed him while working with the ANA was their wiliness to learn.

    “The eagerness of the ANA engineers is impressive,” he said. “They want to do this, they want to learn every aspect of the machinery, they listen and once they learn it they go out and do it.”

    “A prime example is a few of the soldiers have never driven an automobile before in their life,” he said. ‘We get them out here, teach them how to drive, and now I’m not even riding with them and they are doing a great job.”

    Teaching ANA soldiers how to drive and which levers to push and pull while operating the equipment has now turned into a supervisory role; a role that isn’t lost on any of the instructors.
    “Hopefully, at the end of our tour we are just bodies taking up space and the ANA are the ones doing all the work,” said Gash.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.04.2012
    Date Posted: 02.04.2012 09:03
    Story ID: 83330
    Location: FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, AF 

    Web Views: 344
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN