News: Afghan lightning strike
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WOLVERINE, Afghanistan – Afghan soldiers from 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps graduated from the first ever Rado Barq Zadan “Lightning Strike” Pathfinder academy taught by Pathfinders from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade at Forward Operating Base Wolverine, Afghanistan, June 14.
The eight hand selected soldiers from 4th Kandak received their Pathfinder Lightning Strike Scrolls from Lt. Col. AJ Hotek, 4th Kandak Executive Officer, and certificates of completion from Lt. Col. Kelly Hines, 2-25 AVN commander during the graduation ceremony on FOB Wolverine.
During the training, soldiers from 4th/205th Corps were chosen to learn how to conduct Pathfinder, Air Assault, and Lightning Strike Operations with the goal of later training others throughout the Afghan National Army in Pathfinder operations.
By the end of the two week course, the soldiers were able to plan and execute air assault operations, conduct tactical site exploitation, conduct partnered Lightning Strike operations, execute Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations, and rig, certify and execute sling load operations.
“These classes are designed to help the Afghan Army sustain outlying Combat Outposts (COP) and FOBs once coalition forces leave Afghanistan,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Jackson, the Platoon Sergeant for F/2-25 AVN, 25th CAB, originally from Coolville, Ohio. “The lesson plan was very aggressive covering a broad spectrum of topics. They accomplished quite a bit with minimal assets and time for the first course.”
The combat care course of instruction illustrates the proper steps to administering life saving care before a patient can be treated by medical personnel. The first item was the use of a tourniquet to stop bleeding on an extremity.
“Our soldiers need to know these things so they can teach it to others,” said 1st Lt. Abdul Satar, Engineering Company Commander, 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 205th Corps, Afghan National Army. “It was important for the soldiers to learn this. They did not know how to apply a tourniquet properly until this class. By the end of the medical portion of class, they were able to apply a tourniquet properly and administer the proper care to save their fellow soldier’s life.”
One of the other major aspects of Pathfinder operations is sling load operations. During the sling load operations block of instruction, the soldiers were taught how to load, rig the load for movement, certify the rigging, and properly signal the aircraft to hook up the load.
The Afghan soldiers rigged and certified a 20 foot container full of supplies that needed to be transported to another outpost. During the hook up portion of the sling load, they assisted the Pathfinders on top of the container while one soldier conducted the proper hand and arm signals to move the CH-47 Chinook helicopter into position.
“The Afghans were very professional during the whole training,” said Jackson. “I have worked with many other foreign armies; these soldiers are as capable as any other soldier. With this training, they can become self-sustaining in the movement of supplies and equipment by utilizing their assets.”
For the final field training exercise, the soldiers loaded up a cargo net with supplies, rigged it for proper sling load, certified it, and hooked it up to a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. During this exercise, the Pathfinders observed to ensure the safety of personnel involved while the Afghan soldiers completed the task independently.
“All the personnel in the 4th Kandak need this type of training since we are the support battalion for the other Kandak units,” said Satar. “We had a good counterpart to work with. I like working with the pathfinders and sharing our experiences together. There is an old military proverb, Getting sweaty during training will save your life during combat.”
Upon the completion of this academy, the Afghan National Army welcomes its first Pathfinders to their ranks who will conduct Pathfinder operations and teach other soldiers to do the same.