By Sgt. Courtney A. Selig, First Army Division East Public AffairsFebruary 1, 2013
More than 3,200 new Afghan National Security Force members recently completed basic weapons and survivability skills training -- their first step toward assuming the security mission for their nation.
Trainer Mentor Team-Division East, located at Camp Blackhorse in Afghanistan, deployed in August 2012 in support of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. In partnership with the Afghan National Army brigade staff, the TMTs assist in manning, equipping, and training ANA units in order to deploy them to their assigned Corps.
The team, comprised of three sections -- one headquarters section and two company training teams, assisted by their coalition partners -- works daily with Afghan National Security Forces to prepare them for upcoming the security transition. Over the last several months, they have supported equipment training and fielding at the Coalition Consolidated Fielding Center, the TMTs training center.
"We meet with them every day and mentor them through current issues, or assist them in becoming a functional staff," said Capt. Ronald Opperman, a First Army Division East training mentor. "The two company training teams assist and mentor the company commanders, first sergeants, and executive officers in a similar nature. They also go out and assist in ranges and classes such as map reading, troop leading procedures, first aid, and more."
Opperman added the goal of the recent training is to give the ANA confidence that they can safelyand correctly employ their newly fielded equipment.
"The units receive basic instruction on equipment operation, weapons marksmanship and survivability tasks," said Opperman. "They must receive up to 120 days of additional training once they arrive at their assigned corps AO [area of operation] before they are able to assume and execute their mission."
The CFC is not the final stage of training. According to Opperman, the majority of the Afghan Soldiers will have a security force assistant-advisor team attached to them to further enhance their capabilities and training.
"Most of the Soldiers are eager for the specialized training they receive and are ready for the follow on training they will be given when they arrive at their corps locations," said Opperman. "Our team was pleasantly surprise at the motivation of the average Afghan Soldier and his willingness to learn about the new equipment and weapons they would be fielding."
In addition, he said that his entire team is proud of the job they have done.
"Our team goal was to pass on basic military knowledge across a spectrum of different categories -- ranging from basic infantry movement tactics, military decision making process, to driver's training," Opperman stated.
The trainers tested Soldier skills that are known and used by Armies around the world.
"We wanted to instill a logical military thinking process so that no matter what the task was they could apply the same steps and develop viable courses of action," said Opperman. "Working hand in hand, and showing commanders and subordinates alike, that for the commander to make the best decision he needs the most honest and viable answers -- not just the answers he wants to hear."
Opperman added that the training was improved by the insight, and personal experiences, of the noncommissioned and officers of the Division East team.
"The legacy our team leaves is a better training plan for other units to be trained with in the future," said Opperman.
In addition, he said the goal is for the Afghan partners to feel they have gained a second friend, rather than lost a proven mentor.
"We know that our time and effort was a combat multiplier," added Opperman. "It will pay dividends for the Afghan Army in the near future. This mission was a great experience and a model for training that shows how a few well-trained and experienced Soldiers can significantly make a difference."
The 2012 Army Strategic Planning Guidance describes this type of training and equipment familiarization as part of the Army's shaping function. According to the ASPG, training and mentoring assists in preventing further conflicts through the maintenance and development of alliances and partnerships, by fostering mutual understanding through military-to-military contacts, and helping the ANA to increase their capacity to defend themselves.