PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Most spring days, Forward Operating Base Thunder lives up to its namesake as thunderstorms boom across the Gardez Valley.
A different type of explosion, however, echoed throughout the base April 13, as Afghan National Army soldiers validated their skills on the 60 mm mortar range.
These ANA soldiers, military tactics trainers from the 203rd "Thunder" Corps, will now have an additional skill to teach as Coalition Forces hand-off mortar training to the Afghan Army.
"To have this kind of asset is very important," said U.S. Army Sgt. Steven Nix, an indirect fire infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. "When we leave, this will help them to be able to successfully suppress the enemy."
The ANA instructors are now tasked with teaching Afghan soldiers throughout the region how to properly use and maintain the 60 mm mortar system.
"As long as they continue to do as well as they did today, I have no doubt that these guys will be able to teach others successfully," said Nix, a native of De Queen, Ark.
The hand-off of training from coalition forces to ANA trainers comes as International Security Assistance Forces transition the nation's security to the Afghan National Security Forces.
With the help of coalition advisers, the ANA has now taken full control of mortar training, said ANA Col. Muhammad Asif Saboori, training officer for the 203rd.