New recruits join Afghan National Army
January 24, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2011 -- The newest members of the Afghan National Army traveled to Forward Operating Base Thunder, home of the ANA 203rd Thunder Corps, to attend basic training Jan. 15.
The initial batch consisted of 600 recruits to attend Basic Warrior Training. By March the numbers are expected to double.
Soldiers from the 4th Platoon, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Lightning in Paktiya province, advise Afghan instructors and train new recruits.
"Nothing prepares you to train like this," said Capt. Phil Durkin, senior adviser, ANA Basic Warrior Training. "This is not the American army. They have their own standards."
The adjustment for the Afghans is difficult as well. Afghan recruits must adjust to both life in the military and working with the American servicemembers who partner with Afghan instructors.
"It's the first time many of these guys have worn western clothes, been around Americans or visited an army base," said USgt. Scott Hannah, instructor, ANA 203rd Thunder Corps' 3rd Basic Warrior Training Company.
Afghan soldiers learn the same basic skills taught to U.S. recruits. They are locked down in barracks. Each cot is meticulously made. Their shoes, towels and sandals are lined up evenly.
"It's pretty much the same as American basic training, but the Afghan instructors are a lot more, 'hands-on,'" said advisor Cpl. Brandon Metzer. "Afghan instructors do not do a lot of yelling, but they are quick to grab hold of new recruits and get them moving in the right direction."
ANA Operations Sgt. Maj. Akhtar Muhammad personally trains many of the recruits.
"I feel good about these guys. They are the best I have worked with," said Muhammad, who has trained more than 58 Afghan companies in the last six months.
ANA Pvt. Gul Nazim is excited about the training he is receiving and expressed pride in his decision to the join the Afghan army.
"I decided that I must help my country," Nazim said.
Nazim is the first person in his family to join the army. He claims that he is ready to serve anywhere the army sends him, but hopes to serve with the Afghan infantry. He, like Muhammad, is optimistic.
"We will have a great future and the Afghan army will be strong if we continue to train like this," said Nazim.