By Spc. Blair NeelandsMay 13, 2010
KABUL - Nestled in the mountainous outskirts of the nation's capital is the Kabul Military Training Center, where more than 8,000 Afghan National Army soldiers can be found training at any given time.
KMTC is the main training facility for the ANA Training Command and the "force provider" for Afghanistan's national defense. The center provides initial basic warrior training and advanced combat training for recruits, as well as advanced training for commissioned and noncommissioned officers.
"At any time, we have 7,000 soldiers in BWT and 1,000 soldiers in ACT," said Afghan Col. Mohammad Amin-Wahidi, training and education officer, KMTC.
An international team of trainers from America, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Romania, Poland, Germany, Turkey and Mongolia mentor and assist Afghan instructors by providing feedback on lesson plans and operations.
With these mentors, Amin-Wahidi said the student-to-teacher ratio has improved in all of the KMTC courses. Specifically, in BWT, each drill sergeant instructed 79 soldiers; now they instruct 29 each.
BWT teaches new ANA soldiers basic infantry skills such as land navigation and radio procedures and qualifies them on various NATO weapons. Towards the end of the eight-week course, each soldier is tested on the newly learned skills.
"They are tested on basic medical training: how to carry a litter, fireman's carry, how to put on a splint," said 2nd Lt. James Akin, from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "Further down in the testing, they also assemble and disassemble an M-16."
This, the last step before finally graduating, is crucial to their future success within the ANA.
"These skills are absolutely vital," Akin said. "Using a radio, firing weapons and helping your buddy out when he's hurt are all very important skills."
Every other week, nearly 1,400 ANA soldiers proudly march across the KMTC parade field, becoming the newest BWT graduates. From there, soldiers move to ACT, where they specialize in skills such as reconnaissance, logistics, signal, medical and artillery.
"We have the ACT brigade, where they teach 11 different professions," said Amin-Wahidi.
Through his 26-year career, Amin-Wahidi has learned the NCO corps truly is the backbone of the ANA. To keep the corps strong, courses for junior NCOs, drill sergeants and even rank as high as sergeants major also are housed within the KMTC compound.
"We need professional noncommissioned officers in the ANA to train our soldiers," he said.
Commissioned officers also come to KMTC for basic officer training course, company commander course and battalion commander course. To receive their commission, soldiers attend Officer Candidate School and the Mujahedeen integration course.
The goal of KMTC is ultimately to enable soldiers with the capabilities to fight terrorism and assure security for the people of Afghanistan.