Afghan troops train on mortars
November 29, 2013
LAGHMAN, Afghanistan -- Atop a hill at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Soldiers with Task Force Patriot met mortar men brought in from across the 201st Afghan National Army Corps to conduct a live-fire culmination exercise Nov. 19 using the lightweight 60 mm M224 mortar.
Before the sound of mortar fire filled the air at FOB Gamberi's ANA mortar live fire range, Task Force Patriot instructors divided the 18 ANA soldiers into three groups for refresher training that reviewed safety, tube elevation settings and how to "hang" each mortar round.
In the days and weeks leading up to the live-fire exercise, instructors had taken their time, since training soldiers from another country can be difficult when students speak other languages.
"There are at least three languages in my class other than English," said Staff Sgt. David Flores, mortar section sergeant, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI). "You've got Uzbek, Pashtu and Dari -- all rolled into one."
Class instruction outlined the M224's basic capabilities and cha-racteristics, including the weight of the mortar tube, distance it can shoot, rate of fire, and the names and weights of its various components.
"We started right at the basics," Flores said. "Every single day we made them teach it back to us. Every week, we reviewed everything we (had) learned."
The mortar training not only benefited the students but also future Afghan students who will learn from them.
"This training is important because (U.S. Soldiers) are training Afghan instructors to go back and be able to teach these skills down at the brigade and kandak level," said Lt. Col. Charles Barber, adviser to 201st ANA Corps G-5. "With that skill, they can defend their country and provide additional security to the units they're assigned."
One Afghan soldier explained the importance of the training and the defense of Afghanistan.
"Learning about the mortars and being proficient on the battlefield is very important for us," said Sgt. Ahmad Shah, a mortar man with 6th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st ANA Corps. "By this (ANA) job, I can serve my country and be part of our national security for the (Afghan) people."
Another soldier said he appreciated the training provided by coalition forces, because it will help him with his commitment to protect the people of Afghanistan.
"I am very happy to serve the Afghan people," said Sgt. Anayatullah, a mortar man with 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade. "As long as I am alive and have blood in my body, I will serve my country."
During the training, Brig. Gen. Yar Mohammad, 201st ANA Corps deputy corps commander, arrived with members of the Ground Forces Command to oversee the progress of his corps' soldiers.