06 Nov. 2008
PR# 2008-597

French OMLT trains ANA

Afghan National Army soldiers conduct a foot patrol with the French Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team

KABUL, Afghanistan - An International Security Assistance Force Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) has been operating out of Uruzgan Province since 16 August.

Approximately 60 members of the French Marine Corps and the French Foreign Legion have been training the Afghan National Army in weapons drills, mine detection, medical techniques, signal training and daily life duties.

"We are training the Afghan soldiers to be self-sufficient in operations and to help improve the security of this region," said Lt. Col. Eric Berthiaux, French OMLT commanding officer. "It is a very interesting mission and it is a good challenge for us."

The French are helping ISAF in assisting the Afghan government to extend and exercise its authority and influence across the country, creating the conditions for stabilization and reconstruction.

Part of the ISAF OMLT Program, which is aimed toward developing the ANA, OMLT’s are comprised of 12-19 people who 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.

"We like to go into the villages and show ourselves to the people and show them we are present," said an ANA soldier who is being trained by the French. "I enjoy it a lot. We are happy to work with the French. They are polite and nice people."

Maj. Pierre Andre Poutout, a French Foreign Legion doctor, has been teaching medical technical skills to some of the ANA medics.

"My ANA medics are great guys and they want to learn a lot," said Poutout. "They are very motivated and are very interested in our country and language. It is interesting to work with them. They listen to what we tell them."

Besides training, the French have been living with the ANA and accompanying them on combat missions. Working together while conducting aggressive patrols and defensive work trying to root out the insurgents has led to a close and fruitful partnership.

"We are doing good mentoring and living close to the Afghan soldiers," said Berthiaux. "The level of the [Afghan soldiers training] is improving day by day, because they want to progress and improve themselves."

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/