LAGHMAN, Afghanistan (Nov. 19, 2013) -- Trucks arrived, zooming up the hill at Forward Operating Base Gamberi's Afghan National Army Mortar Live Fire range, Nov. 19, 2013. The trucks brought mortar men from across the 201st ANA Corps, there to conduct a familiarization live-fire exercise using the M224 lightweight company mortar.
There were 18 soldiers with 40 rounds to fire by noon that day. The range was part of the 60 millimeter mortar training provided by Task Force Patriot's Company B, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment.
Before the sounds of mortars began, the instructors broke the assembled ANA soldiers down into three groups and went over on-the-spot refresher training. They reviewed how to set tube elevation and how to "hang" each round. This was important for safety as well as proficiency.
Training soldiers from another country can be difficult when the students do not speak the same language as the instructors.
"There are at least three languages in my class other than English," said Staff Sgt. David Flores, mortar section sergeant, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment. "You've got Uzbek, Pashtu and Dari all rolled into one."
The class began with the basic capabilities and characteristics; how much does the mortar tube weigh, how far it can shoot, what is the rate of fire and what are the names of the different components and how much do they weigh?
"We started right at the basics and every single day we made them teach it back to us; every week we reviewed everything we learned throughout the week," said Flores, a native of Guam.
This mortar live fire training is not only for the benefit of the students present.
"This training is important because [U.S. Soldiers] are training Afghan instructors to go back and be able to teach these skills down at the brigade and kandak level," said Lt. Col. Charles Barber, advisor to the 201st Corps G-5 training. "With that skill, they can defend their country and provide additional security to the units they're assigned.
One troop expressed his feelings on the importance of the training and the defense of Afghanistan.
"Learning about the mortars and being proficient on the battlefield is very important for us," said Sgt. Ahmad Shah, mortar man, 6th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st ANA Corps. "By this [ANA] job, I can serve my country and be part of our national security for the [Afghan] people, said the 30 year old."
Another troop said he not only appreciates the Coalition Forces training him, but said he's committed to the protection of the Afghan people.
"I am very happy to serve the Afghan people and as long as I am alive and have blood in my body, I will serve my country," said Sgt. Anayatullah, mortar man, 1st Kandak, 2nd Brigade.
During the training, Brig. Gen. Yar Mohammad, deputy corps commander, 201st ANA Corps, arrived with members of the Ground Forces Command to oversee the progress of his corps' soldiers.