CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Like those before them, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), made a concerted effort to put together a well-rounded group of Marines to create their Embedded Partnering Team.
The EPT is responsible for training, mentoring and advising Afghan National Army units as they work to become independent from coalition forces, a priority of 2nd MLG (FWD) as they prepare to transfer authority to 1st MLG (FWD) in the coming months.
According to 1st Lt. Owen Finnegan, the CLB-1 EPT assistant officer-in-charge, not only were the individual Marines handpicked, but their pre-deployment training was crafted, planned and carried out over the span of multiple months.
“There was a real attempt by the leadership of CLB-1 to ensure there wouldn’t be anything we weren’t ready for, so we wouldn’t be caught unaware or unprepared,” Finnegan said.
For Marines on partnering and advising teams, the survivability training they receive, including advanced medical and combat readiness courses, is crucial because they often conduct operations without coalition support as they work to increase the ANA’s independence.
The particular unit that the CLB-1 EPT is mentoring is the 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th ANA Corps Logistics Battalion, and thus far they have shown they are ready and willing to learn and operate without assistance, according to Finnegan.
“Our [ANA] unit is actually rather proficient,” Finnegan said. “They run all their convoys on their own.”
Despite the unit’s ability to operate on many tactical levels on their own, there are still challenges that the EPT faces while mentoring the Afghan soldiers. “
Our major issue is now that the Afghans can do a lot of these things on their own, how do we step away?” Finnegan pointed out. “Now they don’t even want us to go on the convoys with them. They do that on their own and they are proud of it and they should be. This ANA kandak has become a success story very quickly.”
Finnegan added, once the Marines finish supply and maintenance training with the ANA, their job will be even closer to being complete. “It’s our goal to work ourselves out of a job, so we aren’t in this business anymore,” he said.