31 July 2008

PR# 2008-357

ISAF bridge course builds capacity

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan’s capacity to deal with natural disasters and take responsibility for its future improved recently, thanks to an ISAF bridge construction course for Afghan National Army soldiers.

Thirteen ANA soldiers, with the help of 15 Italian engineers, graduated a 10-day course July 30 at Camp Invicta here on how to erect a logistic support bridge, designed by the company Mabey & Johnson.

Slovenia is the first of several nations to donate Mabey & Johnson bridges for training the ANA. ISAF’s chief engineer, British Colonel Chris Ince, said the bridge’s simple, flexible design means it can adapt to conditions in Afghanistan.

“The modular and readily transportable design of the bridge means it can easily be deployed in areas of need following natural disasters such as earthquake or flood, and it can also be used strategically during military operations,” Colonel Ince said. Also, “the bridge is man-portable, which means a crane is not essential for its construction tasks.”

During the course, soldiers built a seven-bay, 21-meter-long bridge then dismantled it.

Colonel Ince said further courses will give a large number of ANA soldiers the skills needed to erect the bridges throughout the country.

“Having access to the bridges to be donated by ISAF nations, as well as the knowledge of how to erect them, will allow the ANA to directly take care of the needs of the Afghan people in times of crisis,” Colonel Ince explained. “Developing such capacity within the ANA will mean the international community won’t always need to take the lead and is another way ISAF is assisting Afghanistan to stand on its own.”

Many representatives from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s government attended the event, to include Major General Shazedah, Ministry of Defence’s chief of disaster response; Brigadier General Mohammad Shafer Baheer, MoD’s deputy chief of disaster response; Brigadier General Abdul Rahim, ANA General Staff’s chief of operations training; Sher Mohammad Akhonzada, Upper House’s chief of the Defence and Security Commission; and Senator Monawa Nizeimi, member of the Defence and Security Commission.

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/