By U.S. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Jerry SaslavNovember 1, 2013
LAGHMANPROVINCE, Afghanistan (October 28, 2013) -- The small group of men were gathered around the back of an Afghan National Army Humvee parked on a patch of gravel on Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Oct. 28, 2013.
"Ask them how much they know about this system," said Alturquan Pair, a field service representative for Lockheed Martin.
In the back of the vehicle sat a device with a few wires coming out of it.
"I know how to turn it off and on," said Afghan National Army 1st. Lt. Abdul Akbar, Route Clearance Company, 2nd Brigade, 201st Corps, "I also know how to put the program in."
The device is designed to counter and defeat improvised explosive devices, the number one weapon used by the enemies of Afghanistan.
"This is what they are going to use to make sure the system is working," said Pair, holding up a small electronic device, "they're going to take this back with them, so if they think a system is not working, they'll turn it on and test it with this. I'll show them what to look for to see if the system is working or not."
This wasn't a scheduled class. The ANA had dropped off their vehicles and the counter- IED devices for routine maintenance. Pair and the U.S Soldiers who have been mentoring these ANA soldiers decided to seize the opportunity for some additional training.
" [It was] a basic maintainer course … so [the ANA soldiers] can better understand the system," said 1st Lt. Jonathan Hoekzema, 663rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, "now they can gauge how the system is working … what they need to do if something happens."
Step by step Pair took the soldiers through the system, pointing out the common things that could cause the system to fail; a wire not being connected tight enough or a frayed cable. Pair answered every question the Afghans asked until he was sure that they knew the material.
"What you taught [us] today, [we] had never been told that before," said Akbar. "Once we [get back to our unit], we will make sure that everyone learns [this]. It is to everyone's advantage.
Towards the end of the training, Akbar had a request for Pair and the other advisors, concerning what to expect in upcoming training.
"If we can plan something in the future, to learn more about the system … just every nitty, gritty thing about it," said Akbar, "then we would be able to handle things on our own. In the future when you guys are not here, we want to be able to fix [the system] and be able to use it properly."