HERAT, Afghanistan -- The Afghan National Army's 207th Corps has taken another step forward towards self-sustainment, by assuming responsibility April 21 for unit level maintenance and repair of the corps' small arms and crew served weapons systems.

Four soldiers from the 207th Corps were the first to graduate from the newly established six-week weapons maintenance and repair course taught at Camp Zafar located in western Afghanistan.

The course is designed to train soldiers on the disassembly, cleaning, repairing and assembly of the various ANA weapon systems, as well as the proper administration and maintenance of unit armories.

"This is a positive thing and a much needed program," said James McLaurin, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan logistics mentor at the Herat Regional Military Training Center. "The ability to be self-sustaining is critical when they move to their deployment sites. It is important that they have the knowledge and tools necessary to readily make use of the resources they have on hand."

The maintenance program is comprised of three phases.

The first provides six-weeks of hands-on training, providing weapons familiarization on small arms and crew served automatic weapons systems.

The second phase, provides each armorer additional instruction in which individual weapon repair kits are issued and become part of the unit's permanent arms room inventory.

The final phase introduces the armorers to the supply and requisition process, enabling them to receive replacement parts and returning their weapons to a mission capable status.

"These soldiers are now the subject matter expects on weapons repair and will become the trainers for other NCOs within their brigades," McLaurin said. "Prior to this transition, the 207th Corp weapons were repaired by Coalition forces. Now, if a soldier's weapon needs repairs, they can take it to their armorer and can have it serviced right away."

The 207th Corp currently has four soldiers trained, one from each brigade, and each responsible for maintaining roughly 1,600 weapons which include M-16s, M-240s, and M-249s.

"Before becoming qualified to work on our own weapons, we would sometimes have to arrange training around the repairs," said Sgt. Saghar Mohebollah, 207th Corps armorer and recent graduate of the training course. "With the knowledge we gained from the course, we can teach our fellow NCOs how to fix their weapons."