19 Oct. 2008
PR# 2008-546

ISAF teams mentor Afghan National Army

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams of the 1st and 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, have been operating out of Kandahar and Helmand Province since 22 August.

The mission of the Canadian soldiers is to enable and mentor the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) in every stage of the military spectrum from training their Afghan counterparts to accompanying them on real world operations, said Capt. Ross Bonnell, an Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) officer, commanding mentor and a native of Gage Town, New Brunswick, Canada.

“Working with the ANA presents some challenges; you have to be very patient, but when you get down to the bottom of it, they are just like us and like to kid around and joke,” said Capt. Rob Semrau, an OMLT officer commanding mentor. “They’re just like soldiers all around the world and are some good guys”

The Canadians are part of the International Security Assistance Force OMLT Program, which is aimed toward developing the ANA. OMLT’s are comprised of 12-19 people and embed with ANA battalions, brigades, garrisons and corps headquarters. The teams deploy for at least six months in order to build enduring relationships with the ANA and maximize mentoring effect.

In an effort to make the ANA better soldiers and more knowledgeable, the Canadians have been teaching them in basic soldier skills, marksmanship principles, tactics and maneuvers, and planning, said Cpl. Tony Haraszta, a Canadian OMLT gunner.

“It’s been challenging working with them, but it is a good experience,” said Cpl. Christopher Stamplecoski, an OMLT mentor, and a native of Wilmer, Ontario, Canada. “This is my first time working with them and it has been really rewarding so far.”

Besides training, the Canadians have been living with the ANA and accompanying them on combat missions. The soldiers have been working together while conducting aggressive patrols and defensive work in trying to root out the insurgents.

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/