PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Heath Kennedy, forward support company advisor with Security Advise and Assist Team 4, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), along with the help of Soldiers with the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company, Minnesota National Guard, assisted the Afghan National Army's 203rd Engineer Khandak with the maintenance of military trucks as well as construction vehicles at Forward Operating Base Thunder, Afghanistan, Oct. 6.
"The ANA had a bunch of equipment come back from a mission in Chamkani, where they were putting up Hescos (barriers) and guard towers." said Staff Sgt. Christopher James, a heavy construction equipment repairer with the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company, Minnesota National Guard, and native of Rice, Minn. "With the equipment they brought back, we took the ANA mechanics through it all and supervised while they performed Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services on it."
The use of PMCS will assist them in keeping their vehicles mission capable and also help them recover from their mission by showing deficincies that need to be resolved.
"They are recovering from their missions, trying to get their maintenance under control," said Kennedy, a native of Lincoln, Neb. "Since a lot of their equipment is brand new, it is taking a little time getting (replacement) parts in their supply system."
Getting their supply system up and running is an obstacle that any new unit faces.
"This unit is brand new, they started when we got here in May," James said. "They are eager to learn, very eager to learn. When I had them as students they always asked questions, they were always involved with the training."
Spending the majority of a deployment training, developing and then seeing them employ what they have learned brings about a sense of accomplishment.
"We've been working with them for about five months now and they are implementing everything that they're learning," said Spc. Lucas Papesh, a Soldier with the 850th Horizontal Engineer Company, Minnesota National Guard, and native of Carlton, Minn. "For the majority of them, we started from scratch by teaching them basic stuff that they know pretty well now."
"For as new as this battalion is, they are doing quite well," Kennedy expressed. "It's just taking time and as time goes on these guys will (continue to) receive the training they need to accomplish their mission."
Which is what the SFAAT mission is all about, getting the ANA to a point of self-sustainability.