By By Doug MagillJanuary 24, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Afghan National Security Force Facility Engineer Technical Training School officially opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Kabul, Jan. 23.
Sixty students will attend the first course, which starts Jan. 24 and lasts six months. Of those 60 students, 52 of them will be assigned to the Afghan National Army while the remaining eight will be working for the Afghan National Police. The first class of students arrived from assignments all across Afghanistan.
"It helps to get some expertise out in the further reaches of the country instead of just training everybody here," U.S. Air Force Maj. Jack Blalock, of ministerial development said. "Then we push these few out and they go on and train their peers. The concept is to spread it out as best as we can."
The majority of the class is comprised of civilians with some junior-enlisted soldiers in the mix.
The course trains students in electrical work, carpentry, plumbing, masonry, heating venting and cooling, painting and welding. Students also learn Computer-Aided Drafting and receive English and literacy training as well as basic computer skills.
The school's future plans include expanding the number of students from 60 to 150 per class. A three-story connex will be constructed to house the additional 100 students. ITT System Corporation managed the school's construction and will oversee the training.
"It's the only way we'll be able to turn this over to the Afghans is to train them right," Brent Farmer, ITT Deputy Program Manager said. "This school will go a long ways."
It has been a project at least two years in the making of which Blalock played an active role.
"I was deployed here two years ago and they kept promising me they were about to start a school," he said. "I was a mentor out in Air Corps at north KIA and I wanted to put people through training. It's been a long time coming. That's why it's such a huge day for the Army and the Engineers."
The ribbon-cutting was followed by speeches from Afghan National Army Brigadier General Habibullah, Chief of Construction Management Property Division, and U.S. Navy Capt. Frank Vaccarino, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, Combined-Joint Engineers deputy director for ministerial development.
"This technical training school is a very big step towards success in the rebuilding of Afghanistan," Habibbullah said.
Vaccarino said the facility was a direct product of Habibullah's vision.
"We created General Habibullah's vision to create a centralized school for technical training for all civilian engineers," Vaccarino said. "We will pull students from all over Afghanistan to give them an environment free to do nothing but learn. The students will go back to their facilities as trained and qualified facility engineers."