7 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-154

Titan training program targets ANSF

CAMP KEATING, Afghanistan – ISAF Soldiers have made special efforts to help the Afghan government and Afghan National Security Forces build a stable base at Camp Keating, located in Nuristan Province in northeast Afghanistan.

A short, comprehensive course on dismounted tactics targeting all Afghan security forces is currently helping to improve ANSF performance and enhance regional security.

The 24-hour class, taught by Task Force Titan instructors from 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment of Task Force Spartan, serves as a refresher course for Afghan National Policemen, Afghan Security Guards, Afghan National Border Police and personal security detachment guards.

The course was started by a Military Police unit formerly stationed on the camp and consists of a variety of classes, including first aid, weapons training and unarmed combatives training. These classes represent merely the tip of the iceberg of knowledge that Afghan forces are exposed to throughout the course, given that this is a refresher course, developing on skills the Afghans already possess. The amount of time spent on each subject in the course varies, with key subjects receiving more time.

“We spend a lot of time on the weapons,” said Sgt. Juan Barajas, course instructor. “A lot of these Afghan soldiers have not had very much formal military training up until now. A lot of old habits have to be broken and that takes a little extra time.”

The Afghan soldiers are trained on the AK-47 automatic rifle, 9-millimeter pistol and the shotgun. Weapons safety is a main concern on the small training range as well as real-life scenarios. The weapons are of little use if they don’t function properly. “We also teach them preventative maintenance on their weapons,” Barajas said.

At the completion of the course all students are awarded a graduation certificate.

Trainers face and surmount a number of challenges as they work alongside Afghan colleagues; the most significant of which is the language barrier between the instructors and the soldiers.

“Sometimes meaning gets lost in translation,” Barajas continued. “It takes a lot of patience to make sure these guys are truly understanding what we want from them. We have an interpreter that works with us. We exercise a lot of patience when trying to convey what we expect of the Afghan soldiers during training.”

Another aspect of the course is the time taken with the individuals training to be bodyguards for VIPs. “We train them on special actions, like office evacuation procedures or how to set up security for special meetings, or just having VIP on a location,” Barajas said.

Barajas and his fellow trainer, Sgt. Andrew Gibbs, put their hearts into their work. “When we start to see true initiative with the Afghans, it spurs the same in us,” said Gibbs. “Their desire to learn inspires the desire to teach in us.”

“We try and teach them to take pride in what they do,” Gibbs said. “We want them to understand that this is not just a job. They are working towards a stronger Afghanistan.”

Barajas and Gibbs make sure they take whatever time is needed to ensure the Afghans are learning their job correctly, so each course is not always the same. The course path depends on the needs of the current pupils.

“We make an assessment of the soldiers prior to them beginning the course,” Barajas said. “If they are already well schooled and comfortable with all the basics, we may take the training to a more advanced level to make sure everyone is getting what they need.” More advanced classes include counter-sniper operations and drug interdiction.

Trainers plan to expand the course length to 32 hours in the near future. They also plan to introduce a new curriculum, including driver training. Other projections for the future include a more intensive un-armed combative portion and a “train the trainer” program.

Looking at the bigger picture, the trainers involved in delivering this course hope that their instruction will help improve the region by bolstering the security forces. “When we leave, we want to see a much stronger and more self-reliant Afghan police and security force,” Gibbs said. “They do not have the best resources, but things are slowly changing and security has to come first.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/