Honaker-Miracle: In the ANA's capable hands
July 24, 2013
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - "We appreciate the hard work that you have done here," said Afghan National Army Maj. Rahman, the Kandak executive officer, with the aid of an interpreter.
Rahman and other ANA staff officers met with U.S. Army soldiers from Security Forces Advisory and Assistance Team 6, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, for breakfast at former Combat Outpost Honaker-Miracle, Kunar province, Afghanistan, July 4.
SFAAT 6 drove up that morning from Forward Operating Base Joyce to observe operations at Honaker-Miracle as part of a level-two advisory mission. The SFAAT recently transitioned to level-two advising, which is a more hands-off mode of interaction with Afghan counterparts. This allows Afghan National Security Forces to take a more principal role in their areas of operation.
The meeting wasn't all business, though. The shoptalk was broken up frequently with laughter and stories sparked by a shared camaraderie.
"I worked every day with these guys for nine months," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Scott MacChesney, company adviser, SFAAT 6, of Averill Park, N.Y. "It's hard not to get close."
The 9-month relationship between the SFAAT and the Kandak has developed on a variety of levels.
As the training facilitator, MacChesney said he organized instruction on day-to-day and tactical operations with the ANA, covering everything from on-post communication to counterinsurgency operations. The training took place in classroom environments, as well as out in the field on actual missions, which allowed Afghan soldiers to gain confidence in their abilities.
U.S. Army Spc. William Simpson, a medic with SFAAT 6, of Petaluma, Calif., worked with the ANA medical team to impart U.S. Army-standard first aid skills. He said he found the Afghans' eagerness to learn and level of professionalism very impressive.
"They were excited to have all those classes," Simpson said. "Ability-wise, I think they're set pretty well. Every casualty that I saw was managed very well."
Also, Simpson said the training he introduced to the Kandak will continue under the direction of two very capable ANA physician's assistants after the SFAAT's time in country has ended. That skillset will not be lost.
Whether they are interacting with the local populace, fending off enemies in the Pech Valley, providing medical care to casualties, or passing on knowledge to the next generation, SFAAT team members consider their ANA counterparts at Honaker-Miracle up to the challenge.
On account of this, the Kandak executive officer personally expressed his gratitude to the SFAAT commander, U.S. Army Maj. Dean Scaletta, of Las Vegas, Nev., for the work his soldiers accomplished.
"The support that you have provided to these adviser teams enabled them to do their job well," Rahman said as he and Scaletta ate breakfast together. "We appreciate your efforts."