CAMP EGGERS, KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 9, 2012) - Seven Afghan National Army soldiers working for the ANA Army Support Command and subordinate units had the opportunity to participate in the Army Ten-Miler shadow run here, Oct. 7.

The Afghan National Army, or ANAc soldiers were invited by Sgt. Maj. Jerry Charles, the senior noncommissioned officer of the future operations section of Deputy Command of Support Operations, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, and senior enlisted logistics mentor for the ANA's Army Support Command.

"Command Sergeant Major Muhebullah (ASC senior noncommissioned officer) and I discussed his soldiers' participation in the event in August," said Charles. "His intent was to extend the invitation to each Regional Logistics Support Command to provide one or two soldiers to participate. Only soldiers from the ASC headquarters in Kabul participated in previous events."

Fort this event, two RLSCs sent soldiers to participate, and that demonstrates my fellow sergeant major's leadership-reach, added Charles.

It took some organization, but after getting his commander to sign a letter authorizing the participation in the run, the units were eager to line up their best soldiers, said Muhebullah.

"Four of them are from my headquarters; two of them came from Gardez and one from Kandahar," he said.

The day of the race the ANA soldiers showed up in outfits reflecting the colors of the Afghan national flag. The soldiers were applauded by the close to 200 runners in front of the NTM-A headquarters, as they joined them at the start line.

Coalition runners like Capt. Nicole Gray, the DCOM SPO battle captain welcomed the idea of having our Afghan partners run in the race.

"I like having the opportunity to have them participate in something that is just not related to our goals here," she said. "It's nice to see them getting to do something fun."

Gray participated in a total of six runs before, but all shorter than the ten-mile shadow run. She stuck to a training program to prepare for this particular competition. She ran with a battle buddy who she kept talking to and also used a Global Positioning Device watch to track her laps and not to lose count.

ANA soldier Monir Khan, a medic from Regional Support Command-East under the ANA Army Support Command on the other hand said his unit's rigorous physical fitness program was his train-up for the race.

"I have always been ready to run," said Monir through an interpreter. "Every morning my unit conducts physical fitness training ... some days we run 20 kilometers," he said with a proud smile. He tried to 'tailgate' some faster runners in the competition, to keep a good pace.

Charles said Muhebullah was very appreciative of the invite for his soldiers to participate in the run.

"The soldiers from the RLSC appreciated the opportunity to visit Kabul and their headquarters, but most of all compete in a coalition event," said Charles. All but one ANA soldier completed the event in less than 78 minutes, he added.

Charles thinks that combined sporting events are a "great resource to further partnership, re-earn host nation trust" and to provide an opportunity for his counterpart to motivate his soldiers.

"The gains of these types of events and opportunities with our ANA and Afghan National Police counterparts are immeasurable," he said.

"Maybe in time we could have an ANA and U.S. Army football or volleyball competition," recommended Muhebullah. "It would be great for them to have more interaction and more communication with each other. This is a good thing for both the ANA and the U.S. Army," said Muhebullah in conclusion.

NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan is a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014. For more information about NTM-A, visit www.ntm-a.com.

Page last updated Wed October 10th, 2012 at 08:29