• U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (right), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top center), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., conduct a class on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun to Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve as advisors with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13, and are assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (right), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top center), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., conduct a class on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun to Afghan National Army noncommissioned...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, instructed and supervised an M2 .50 caliber machine gun class to Afghan National Army soldiers at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13 and are assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, instructed and supervised an M2 .50 caliber machine gun class to Afghan National Army soldiers at...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observes as Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps mount an M2 .50 caliber machine gun to a Humvee, during a familiarization class on the weapon system at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13, and are assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observes as Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps mount an M2 .50 caliber machine gun to...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (background), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observe as Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps mount an M2 .50 caliber machine gun on to a Humvee, during a class on the weapon system at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve as advisors with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13, and are assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (background), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observe as Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or...

  • Left to right, U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top right), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, conduct a class on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun to Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13, and are assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    Left to right, U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (top right), a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, conduct a class on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun to Afghan National Army noncommissioned...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (left), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, speaks through an interpreter, to noncommissioned officers assigned to the 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, before conducting an  M2 .50 Caliber machine gun familiarization class at the motor pool on Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. He serves as an advisor with Security Force Assistance Advisory Teams 13. Gomez is a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (left), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, speaks through an interpreter, to noncommissioned officers assigned to the 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, before conducting an M2 .50 Caliber machine gun...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (center), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, shows Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, the components of a .50 caliber machine gun during a class at the motor pool on Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. He serves with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13 and is a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (center), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, shows Afghan National Army noncommissioned officers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, the components of a .50 caliber machine gun...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, speaks through an interpreter, shows Afghan National Army soldiers of the 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, a headspace and timing gauge during a class on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun at the motor pool on Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. The outdoor training was to familiarize the ANA soldiers with the headspace and timing of the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on ANA vehicles. Gomez serves as an advisor with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13 and is a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, speaks through an interpreter, shows Afghan National Army soldiers of the 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, a headspace and timing gauge during a class on the M2 .50...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (center right), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, shows Afghan National Army soldiers a headspace and timing gauge during a .50 caliber machine gun class at the motor pool on Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Gomez and Sgt. Brandon Terrette, (center), instructed and supervised the ANA soldiers on the adjustment procedures that must be performed each time the barrel is installed. The outdoor training was to familiarize the ANA noncommissioned officers with the 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, headspace and timing of the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on ANA vehicles. Both Soldiers serve as advisers with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13 and are assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (center right), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, shows Afghan National Army soldiers a headspace and timing gauge during a .50 caliber machine gun class at the motor pool on Forward Operating Base Tagab, May...

  • U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observe as Afghan National Army soldiers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, perform by-the-book steps on how to mount an M2 .50 caliber machine gun to an ANA Humvee, during a class on the weapon system at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18, 2013. Both serve with Security Force Assistance Advisory Team 13, and are assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade, Task Force Long Knife Public Affairs)

    SFAAT 13 trains ANA on M2 .50 caliber machine gun

    U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Reynaldo Gomez, (foreground), a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, observe as Afghan National Army soldiers assigned to 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, perform by-the-book steps on how to mount an M2 .50...

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 23, 2013) - Elements from Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team 13 trained Afghan National Army soldiers on the M2 .50 caliber machine gun weapons system at Forward Operating Base Tagab, May 18.

The SFAAT 13 advisers met with their Afghan counterparts at the motor pool on FOB Tagab to perform the hands-on training with ANA soldiers assigned to the 2nd Kandak, or battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps. The outdoor training was to familiarize the ANA noncommissioned officers with the headspace and timing of the .50 caliber machine gun mounted on ANA vehicles.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Joshua Lakey serves as adviser to ANA Maj. Ullah Aziz, the executive officer and acting kandak commander. The native of Atlanta, Ga., also serves as operations, or S3, adviser for SFAAT 13.

Lakey said they meet with their ANA counterparts individually to discuss any projects they are working on. The advisors visit their counterparts regularly to provide ANA leadership with solutions for any issues they might have.

During a recent joint operation, Lakey said, there was an incident, when under fire, an ANA soldier's .50 caliber machine gun jammed, rendering the weapon inoperable. Unfortunately, the soldier did not know how to make the weapon fully operational again.

"They were familiar with some [.50 caliber machine gun] training, but they weren't trained well enough to where they could execute it under fire," said Lakey. "So that is what brought up today's training event."

U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Terrette, a signal support systems specialist, provided the ANA noncommissioned officers with the knowledge so they can return to their platoons and train their soldiers on the weapon system.

Terrette is the SFAAT 13, communications noncommissioned officer-in-charge and serves as the ANA communications, or S6, adviser. He is assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Hood, Texas.

The morning began with the U.S. Soldiers walking to the ANA side of the FOB and meeting with their ANA counterparts. The .50 caliber machine gun was removed from the turret of an ANA Humvee and used for the class.

Under the mid-morning sun, the SFAAT advisers showed the soldiers how to safely take the weapon apart and reassemble it. The group of noncommissioned officers encircled Terrette and listened close to what the adviser had to say.

Through the use of an interpreter, the advisers answered questions the ANA soldiers had about the weapon system. With the machine gun on the floor, Terrette showed them how to safely disassemble it.

ANA Sgt. Nemullah, like many Afghans who go by one name, has been in the army for more than three years. He said he is a platoon sergeant and enjoys being a noncommissioned officer.

"I have to educate and train my soldiers how to use this weapon, that is my job," said Nemullah.

After a familiarization with the components of the M2, the ANA soldiers removed the barrel, picked it up from the motor pool floor and repositioned on its mount atop the Humvee.

Next, the advisers instructed and supervised the ANA soldiers on the headspace and timing of the .50-caliber machine gun. The adjustment procedures must be performed each time the barrel is installed. Firing a weapon that has improperly set headspace and timing could damage the machine gun, or cause injury to the gunner.

With the use of a headspace and timing gauge and a translated version of an M2 machine gun technical manual, the ANA soldiers took turns removing and reinstalling the barrel and properly checked the headspace and timing of their weapon. They followed the steps by-the-book and each of the soldiers practiced performing a functions check on the gun.

"Today's training was very good, we've had this training a long time ago and right now they refreshed our mind. We are very happy with the training from our advisers," said Nemullah.

The ANA platoon sergeant said it is important for his soldiers to know how to use every weapon in his kandak.

"I tell my soldiers this is our country, and we have to defend it from whoever is trying to be against our country," said Nemullah.

Terrette is a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and said the SFAAT team does not visit the ANA side of the camp as often as they have in the past when they first arrived at FOB Tagab.

"We advise every other day so they can grow on their own, and we can check on their progress," said Terrette. "We train the NCOs so they can be self-reliant, and spend time training their soldiers."

"The XO does a wonderful job listening to our recommendations and understands what we are trying to accomplish," said Terrette, speaking of the new leadership in the kandak.

Aziz said Coalition Forces do not provide the support they used to and that is not a bad thing. He said they helped the ANA in many ways from providing literacy classes to weapons training.

"Right now the SFAAT teams are allowing us to stand up on our own two feet," said Aziz.

As the acting commander, Aziz said he holds officers and senior noncommissioned officers accountable for their soldiers and said he makes sure they do their jobs.

"In the past, the U.S. soldiers did a lot for the ANA, and that allowed some soldiers to become lazy," said Aziz. "Now the ANA will have to remember all of their previous training so they can do their jobs by themselves."

Terrette said the ANA soldiers maintain constant communication with the check points and combat outposts near the base.

"They have gone from checking on things every once in a while to checking on things every day," said Terrette.

Lakey, a native of Atlanta, Ga., said he has witnessed the vast improvements the ANA have made during his time as an advisor. He said his mission as an advisor has been full of challenges.

"These guys know how to fight, but they don't always have the tools available," said Lakey. "I hope they can get their supply system fixed sooner than later so that it will allow resources get to where they are needed."

As his redeployment back home draws closer, he said he hopes the ANA will continue to grow and make the mission their own, not only for themselves but also for their country.

Page last updated Sat May 25th, 2013 at 03:13