By Spc. Blair NeelandsApril 30, 2010
Kabul - U.S. Soldiers are being changed from inexperienced, nervous privates in the United States Army basic combat training one day, to knowledgeable, qualified mentors for soldiers in the Afghan national army basic warrior training the next.
Many young Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, now find themselves in this new role of teaching basic soldier fundamentals to ANA privates.
"Triple Deuce has a unique role here," said Capt. Brian Retherford, a battalion plans officer. "We are at 19 locations throughout the country helping train ANA soldiers. We are in all corners of the country."
The battalion headquarters along with C Company and elements of E Company are located at Camp Alamo inside the ANA's Kabul Military Training Center, the largest military training facility in Afghanistan.
"Here at the KMTC we have about 170 Soldiers who go out every day to the training area and serve as additional instructors for the basic warrior training," said Retherford.
Also training BWT soldiers throughout the country is B Company in Kandahar and D Company in Mazar e Sharif.
After just over a year removed from his own basic training, Pfc. Ryan Damaska, a fire support specialist with Company C, finds himself on the ground in Afghanistan training ANA soldiers the four fundamentals of shooting an M16 rifle.
"We are teaching them body position, sight picture, breathing and trigger squeeze," Damaska said. "When you teach somebody and you see them improve and qualify it's very satisfying."
Though Soldiers like Damaska are young, Retherford and other Triple Deuce leadership believe they are the best fit for the role of training the new ANA soldiers.
"It's great to see some of our privates and specialists step up to the plate," said Capt. John Doiron, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "To see the maturity and patience these guys are displaying is huge."
With the majority of the battalion focused on the basic training of the ANA, Soldiers of A Company are overseeing the training at the Consolidated Fielding Center in Kabul. Here kandaks, the ANA's word for battalions, are brought together to receive seven weeks of collective training in order to prepare them for deployment to an operational area.
"We are completely consumed on taking the soldiers from BWT, officer and non-commissioned officer training and forming them together as a unit," said Capt. Scott Smith, commander, Company A.
As with the rest of Triple Deuce, Smith has many of his young Soldiers stepping up and filling positions much higher than their rank. Pfc. Michael Parham, an infantryman with A Company, is in charge of the driver's training at CFC. He manages 85 Afghan civilians who train about 135 drivers per week.
"Everyone's working above their pay grade," said Smith. "Given the responsibility, the right individual will not go by what's on his chest, but what he has up in his head."
Soldiers like Damaska and Parham are making the biggest impact on the ANA by being additional instructors.
"There is a Triple Deuce Soldier at every range and every class that's given, so we touch every new trainee that's being developed by the Afghan National Army," said Retherford.
The U.S. Soldiers see after merely eight weeks how their work has transformed an Afghan civilian on day one, into an ANA soldier standing tall and proud on graduation day.
Though a unique mission and not one an infantry battalion would necessarily wish for, the Soldiers of Triple Deuce have embraced the tasks at hand and hope to continue to see success.