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    Afghan officers take charge

    Afghan officers take charge

    Photo By Monique LaRouche | The field training exercise is used for the Joint Officers Tactical Leaders course,...... read more read more

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN

    04.01.2012

    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Monique LaRouche 

    Regional Command Southwest

    CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – As the coalition forces of Regional Command Southwest prepare to transition more and more areas to Afghan control, Marines are training the trainers to develop sustainable leadership skills.

    Along with the many discussions of U.S. troops pulling out of Afghanistan, the Joint Sustainment Academy Southwest, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, is busy training the Afghan Army with all the skills necessary to provide safety for the citizens of their country.

    One of the longest and most intensive trainings is the Joint Officers Tactical Leaders course. The nine-week course trains Afghan Army officers to have all the leadership qualities they will need to train their troops and stay in the fight.

    “We train Afghan officers basic infantry and tactical skills”, said 1st Lt. Duong Dam, officer in charge for the JOTLC. “We guide them to do the right thing.”

    The most recent JOTLC course started during January and the class is nearing graduation.

    The course consists of land navigation, compass training, land mounted patrol, tactical vehicle driving, patrol offense, defense operations, and tactical mount. The courses are held day and night for land navigation and compass training, said Dam.

    Their days start early with breakfast, then morning prayer. It’s important the Afghans follow their prayer schedules, and training is scheduled around these times, said Capt. Lee Collins, deputy director for JSAS.

    Although there is flexibility, the training is tough and the Afghan Army is getting all the building blocks and teaching tools to be successful, said Dam, a native of San Diego.

    One of the unique aspects of this training, and all the other courses at JSAS, is the Afghans are in front of the classroom teaching each other, said Collins, they are given a solid foundation. The key for them is to teach their own through the train the trainer courses.

    The final stages of the course deals with a field training exercise. The day long FTX is held in a simulated village and the new Afghan leaders run the course. The instructors observe what the Afghan soldiers have learned, and are available to give feedback at the end of the day.

    “They are being taught to lead each other,” said Collins. “They are doing a great job.”

    Since most villages in Afghanistan will not have access to some of the technologies normally taught in the classroom, like Power Point, the Afghans are taught combat theory on their own turf using land strategy.

    They are not only taught combat skills, but a large part of the training is conflict resolution skills.

    “I’ve acquired many new experiences that I never had before. The class has been very productive,” said 2nd Lt. Adbul Ghani, nicknamed “Wolfman” by his friends. “I am feeling more powerful, and I will be able to make better decisions in the future. I will be a better leader and will be able to help my own soldiers that will work for me.”

    Since the trainers live, eat and work side by side, for more than two months together, they become close and their friendship is apparent.

    There are only six Marine trainers and one Afghan trainer for the JOTLC. They are more than just trainers to the Afghans, they become their friends and mentors.

    “It is a two-way street,” said Sgt. Henry Torres, an instructor for JOTLC, “I have learned more from them. They teach me.”

    “Their problems become your problems,” said Torres, a native of Dallas.

    While the instructors are getting to know their students, they are also on the lookout for new Afghan instructors at JSAS.

    “What I have learned, I must pass down to the students” said Lt. Assadullah Askeryer, an Afghan instructor and former student. “I am so happy to be working with the Marines. They have been to so many countries and have more tactical experience that they share with us.”

    As the FTX continued throughout the course of the day, the instructors took a step back to observe what the Afghans had learned.

    The process of them leading themselves might take awhile, but they must do it, Dam said.

    “It is hard to let go,” he said. “It’s like watching a baby crawl then walk.”

    The trainers know this process is hard and they are not easy on them. They train the Afghans as they would their own Marines. They treat them the same but with a little more patience, said Torres.

    After long days of training, one of the best parts of the week is movie night, said Torres. To boost the morale of the soldiers, the trainers and the 22 students watch movies. They love to watch Rambo, he said.

    After the FTX is complete, the ANA were able to defend their simulated village successfully against the Marines, the Afghan commander in charge reported. He indicated they captured the enemy, productively captured weapons and they also had three attacks from the northeast. With a smile on his face, he said they are paving the way for civil affairs.

    “You did more than expected,” Dam said, showing his pride.
    The insurgency is something Afghanistan will be facing in everyday life, it is important they do it right and well, he said.

    “They can complete the job, we know they can do it,” Dam added.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.01.2012
    Date Posted: 04.01.2012 09:37
    Story ID: 86082
    Location: CAMP LEATHERNECK, AF 
    Hometown: CAMP LEATHERNECK, AF
    Hometown: DALLAS, TX, US
    Hometown: SAN DIEGO, CA, US

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