26 Dec. 2008
PR# 2008-741

ANA sappers train with ISAF mentors

KABUL, Afghanistan - The military engineers of 1 Brigade, 205 Corps, Afghan National Army, have completed an important program of training in the use and safe handling of explosives and related materials with mentoring from the ISAF Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT). The training was conducted at Camp Hero in November 2008.

The Afghan sappers learned to use plastic explosives for destroying unexploded ordnance such as mines and roadside bombs. Canadian Warrant Officer Wade Osmond, of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment in Petawawa, and Master Corporal Marcus Wisotzki, of 33 Combat Engineer Regiment in Ottawa, also taught search and clearance procedures for dealing with mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and techniques for building fortifications.

The explosives course at Camp Hero was one of the first delivered to ANA field engineers. The techniques taught on the course are important because insurgents often use roadside bombs and IEDs to disrupt the work of Afghan government authorities, the International Security Assistance Force, and relief agencies.

“Combat engineering is an essential task and a key enabler of any army,” said WO Osmond. “The trained sappers will be able to help fellow soldiers move around the battle space more effectively in order to defeat the enemy.”

The course began with a formal review of the basics. A measuring tape, for example, is a foreign object to most Afghan soldiers, but it is an essential tool for working with explosives. If your explosive charge is to detonate at the right time, and neither too early or too late, its time fuse must be cut to precisely the right length, for the length of the fuse determines the length of time from ignition to detonation. The simple class on using a measuring tape also came in handy during the construction phase of the course.

Using trust, patience, ingenuity and a healthy dose of outside-the-box thinking, the Canadian instructors worked hard to build a rapport with their Afghan students. They had to use language assistants to convey their knowledge and skills, and interpretation slowed the teaching process a little, but the Afghan soldiers’ high motivation and eagerness to learn ensured results as good as the instructors would achieve with new Canadian sappers.

The explosives course at Camp Hero demonstrated the great respect that runs both ways between the ISAF mentors and their Afghan students, and this positive learning experience has fostered lasting friendships between allies.

“Afghan National Army soldiers are learning to become a 21st century military fighting force,” said MCpl Wisotzki. “These men risk their lives, and the lives of their families, to do something they believe in — to create a safe and stable Afghanistan.”

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/