News: Certifying Afghan ground maintainers
Story by Capt. Richard Barker
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Wheeled vehicle mechanics with Headquarters Support Company, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, began certifying soldiers of the Logistics Kandak, Kandahar Air Wing, in ground maintenance at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, June 4.
Throughout the next five weeks the KAW soldiers are scheduled to receive a total of 40 hours of training which will result with soldiers receiving their full NATO and Afghan certifications as entry level wheeled vehicle mechanics.
“In addition to the NATO and Afghan criteria to be certified as an entry level mechanic, we also included the tasks from the U.S. Army Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic Skill Level Manual,” said Sgt. 1st Class Roel Walker, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the ground maintenance partnership HSC, 209th ASB, 25th CAB, a native of Severn, Md.
The first day of the certification training included instruction about shop safety. Safety instruction covered the basic rules soldiers need to follow to prevent injuries such as speed limits in the motor pool, the need to escort heavy vehicles, and wearing hearing and eye protection.
“We provide the necessary training to the Afghan army to maintain and sustain their fleet of vehicles,” said Sgt. Stephen Medeiros, lead trainer of the certification program, HSC, 209th ASB, 25th CAB, and a native of Honolulu. “This is one small part of the overall picture to prepare the Afghan army to be self-sufficient.”
A total of eight Afghan soldiers attended the first day of training. The soldiers were very interactive as they each participated in check on learning sessions where the instructor asked the questions.
“They want to be certified in order to do this after we leave,” said Sgt. Jacob Fry, a primary instructor for the certification course with HSC, 209th ASB, 25th CAB, and is a native of Saline, Mich.
As the training continues throughout the next five weeks, the Afghan soldiers will continue to face more challenges as they work toward achieving their certifications.
“We are able to create friendships on the other side of the world and help them become a stable and self-sufficient country,” said Medeiros. “We not only teach each other professionally, but socially.”