CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Afghan instructors have taken the lead in counter-improvised explosive device training at the Explosive Hazard Reduction course, here.
The EHRC is a 30 day course and is intended to train Afghan National Security Forces personnel in basic counter-IED identification, detector use and to give students the ability to blow in place IEDs.
The course is important because the Taliban does not come out to the front and fight, said Afghan National Army Staff Sgt. Hamiedullah, one of the instructors for the course. Usually they use IEDs so we train these students to destroy the IEDs.
“EHRC creates team members who help to allow freedom of movement and fill the gap between EOD and the regular Afghan soldiers,” said Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Petty Officer First Class Jesse M. Taylor, a member of Combined Joint Task Force Paladin and adviser for the course. “[The training] teaches them to locate, identify, place a charge and withdraw to a safe distance and continue.”
“The students are also being trained in standard patrolling techniques to identify and enable access for follow-on forces,” said Taylor.
The course is primary taught by two ANA instructors and is administered by an ANA officer in charge. The CJTF Paladin advisers have seen a distinct advantage from the transfer of the course to Afghan instruction and administration.
“When [the instructors] have a full understanding of the concept, they can communicate that without the barrier,” said Taylor. “When you’re saying something through an interpreter in your own language, who knows if that message is received?”
Having capable Afghan instructors has allowed the advisers to step back and deal with issues outside of the day to day running of the course.
“It really allows us to step back and observe,” said Taylor. “We have more of a supervisory role. They’re quite capable of doing the training.”
Identifying individuals who possess the aptitude, bearing, and motivation to be effective instructors has been a key ingredient in the transition of the course to the Afghans.
“Look at Hamiedullah,” said Ens. Jehu S. Humphries, the CJTF Paladin Partnership and Training OIC for Regional Command Southwest. “He believes in what he does. Having hope and belief that what you’re doing is the right thing, it’s the biggest motivation.”
The CJTF Paladin advisers have applied their own philosophies to their role as partners and mentors for the ANSF.
“Always ask yourself, ‘How would you like to be treated?’,” said Taylor. “Understand that there are different learning techniques or styles. It’s our message that we’re trying to get across so it’s our responsibility to break through that barrier.”
“You need a sincere understanding of the culture to break through that barrier,” said Taylor.
“If we can do our best to treat them with respect and apply the ‘Golden Rule’ and fit that into every scenario, that’s what we’ve tried to inculcate and work into what we do,” said Humphries.
The Afghan instructors’ U.S. counterparts see the transition of their own course and others like it to Afghan control as an important part of the coalition’s overall mission.
“That’s the absolute key to that’s going to make the transfer work,” said Taylor. “Afghans teaching is the only way that’s going to happen. No one understands their culture like they do.”
“It needs to be an Afghan solution,” said Humphries.
I’m very happy with the transition, said ANA Staff Sgt. Hayatullah, the course’s other Afghan instructor. It’s a good opportunity because it’s our country and when we teach, the students can better understand.
For the ANA instructors, teaching EHRC has been a rewarding experience.
I love to see the students go out from here, said Hayatullah. They know these things so they can survive. We get a lot of good feedback from our units and partners.
The students can learn a lot in a one-month class, said Hayatullah.
The Paladin advisers have found that it takes a certain type of individual to carry out the partnership mission effectively.
“Our highest priority from the beginning has been selecting the right people: people who have the capacity for compassion and the ability to adapt,” said Humphries. “Building relationships is the key. It’s challenging but it takes the right people in those positions to make it work.”
In the transfer of this course, the Paladin staff hopes to have made an impact on the overall mission in Afghanistan.
“We need to make sure we’ve done our best to prepare them for when we leave,” said Humphries. “If we want them to be successful we have to concentrate on making sure they have skills and understanding to be able to grow.”
CJTF Paladin is responsible for counter-IED operations and training in theatre.
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