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    Mentoring Afghan Border Police

    AFGHANISTAN - The current campaign of Operation Enduring Freedom is to prepare Afghans to be self-sustaining after North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Security force assistance teams are comprised of soldiers who mentor Afghan leaders in areas where improvements are needed most.

    The 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived in early 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and has security force assistance teams working with the Afghan Border Police and Afghan Uniformed Police in Regional Command – North, Afghanistan.

    “We come up with simple ideas that are easy to institute and can be sustained,” said Col. Michael Maffei, senior combat adviser for the ABP 5th Zone security force assistance teams, assigned to Headquarters Company, 37th IBCT.

    “When I first got here, I thought the mindset would be ‘What can you give me?’” said Maffei. “Instead, it was ‘We want to do this right. Show me how.’”

    Maffei mentors Afghan Brig. Gen. Abdul Habib Sayed Khail, commander of the ABP 5th Zone, near Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province, Afghanistan.

    “He and I had this long discussion the first time we got together and I asked him, ‘When I leave, what can I give you that will stay with you?’” said Maffei.

    The two commanders discussed how Habib’s ABP staff functions.

    “We want a staff who don’t work in a stove pipe, who work well among themselves, who talk to their subordinates and to their superiors, and who keep everyone informed. We gain so much efficiency that way,” said Maffei. “That’s what we’re doing and it’s happening.”

    “We help them to improve their systems by sometimes introducing different thoughts and making recommendations,” said Master Sgt. Morgan Sheeran, quick reaction force mentor, ABP 5th Zone security force assistance team, assigned to Headquarters Company, 37th IBCT. “Sometimes they are not being as effective as they could be and that’s what we try to improve. It’s an incremental process.”

    “They want to learn land navigation and how to read military grid reference systems. They want to have the ability to train their own combat first aid and counter-[improvised explosive device],” said Sheeran. “These are all enduring capacities that we can build within them so they can conduct their own training.”

    “We are starting to see Afghans mentoring Afghans and that’s something that has to occur,” said Sheeran, who taught at the counter-insurgency training center in Afghanistan for fifteen months.

    “Mentoring is influencing,” said Sheeran. “It’s a slow, steady, positive influence.”

    The 37th IBCT’s ABP 5th Zone security force assistance team is made up of seven enablers and seven advisers from Ohio, Michigan, and Washington National Guard. These soldiers have a combined total of more than 300 years of service and some of their civilian occupations include insurance claims adjustor, electrician and project engineer.

    Although team members agree that their ABP counterparts are receptive to being mentored, one of the biggest challenges facing the team is the language barrier.

    “When I speak with a certain emotion, you can hear it in my voice; however, I also have to tell my language assistant and, although he’s not doing it intentionally, he doesn’t translate it with the same passion,” said Maffei.

    Soldiers of the 5th Zone security force assistance team feel that they have built solid relationships with their mentees, both professionally and personally.

    “The more you can bond on the personal side, the more it helps on the professional side,” said Lt. Col. Steven Sanchez, finance and recruiter mentor, ABP 5th Zone security force assistance team, Headquarters Company, 37th IBCT. “It builds trust.”

    “I feel their successes and their losses,” Sheeran said. “You get invested.”

    Senior mentors of the team also feel that age plays a significant part in the mentoring process.

    “Anytime you are the same age as the person you are mentoring, there is already a commonality you both understand,” Sanchez said. “You probably have kids of the same age, have been married the same amount of time, and you’ve probably had one or two similar life experiences like the death of a parent or change of career fields. Those are a lot of things to bond over and talk about.”

    The effectiveness of mentoring is defined by the changes and successes that the team can witness.

    “When we can see changes in their ability to take care of business that used to frustrate them or when we see their systems working better for them, then we know those are mentoring successes,” Sheeran said.

    “I have to choose areas where I can make improvements with them that, hopefully, will make a long-term difference and leave an enduring capability that they didn’t have when I got here.” Sheeran said. “I’m here to build capacity and there’s a lot more work to be done.”



    Date Taken: 07.09.2012
    Date Posted: 07.25.2012 02:54
    Story ID: 92104
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 249
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