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Soldiers with the 5th Kandak of the Afghan National Army stand tall while the American and Afghan national anthems play during a graduation ceremony at Forward Operating Base Delaram, Afghanistan, April 11, 2011. Twenty soldiers graduated from various courses taught by Marines with the Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). The courses included the Basic Maintenance Course, Basic Driver's Course and Field Radio Operator's Course.

Photo by Sgt. Rachael K. A. Moore

Graduation day: one step closer to a more independent Afghan National Army

13 Apr 2011 | Sgt. Rachael K. A. Moore

Twelve maintenance specialists. Six licensed drivers. Two radio operators. All are Afghan National Army soldiers trained by Marines.

Twenty ANA soldiers from the 5th Kandak graduated from various courses during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Delaram, Afghanistan, April 11, 2011.

“It shows a lot about who they are,” said 1st. Lt. Andrew Booth, the assistant officer in charge for the Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “It takes a lot of time and effort to complete the courses.”

Twelve soldiers graduated from the Basic Maintenance Course for tactical vehicles, which consisted of 10 hours of instruction and 30 hours of practical application.  Marines with the EPT trained the soldiers on vehicle orientation, battery maintenance, filter replacement, tire maintenance and safety.

The next group of soldiers to graduate was the Basic Driver’s Course students.  The six soldiers not only received a graduation certificate, but also obtained driver’s licenses.  The course consisted of 32 hours of instruction and 105 hours of practical application.  

“We trained them on vehicle familiarization and [preventive maintenance] just like the maintenance course, but in [the driver’s course] we really focused on driving in reverse, shifting gears, off road operations, convoy operations and recovery of vehicles,” said Cpl. Linwood Martin, a Basic Driver’s Course instructor with the EPT, CLB-8, 2nd MLG (Fwd.).

“When I first got here, I didn’t know how to drive any of the trucks,” explained Said Pacha, a soldier with the 5th Kandak, and a graduate from the Basic Driver’s Course. “When I received my certificate, I was happy.  It feels good to know I can do better work for my kandak now.”

The last group of soldiers to receive certificates graduated from the Field Operator’s Course for radio procedures.  They received 54 hours of instruction and completed 28 hours of hands-on training.  The course focused on the components and capabilities of radios as well as installation and programming.  The students also learned how to properly report incidents like improvised explosive device detection or detonation, and medical evacuation reports.

“Our Marines spend a lot of time training the soldiers, but in the end it’s going to do a lot of good things for them in the kandak as a whole,” said Booth.

The graduates will return to their units and begin training their fellow soldiers on the material they learned.

“The more trained soldiers they have the less they have to depend on the Marines as instructors,” added Booth, a Castlerock, Colo., native. “We [prepare] ANA instructors so they can begin taking over and teaching these courses.”

In addition to training each other, the graduates will also benefit the kandak during day-to-day duties.

“Now I can drive during resupply missions,” said Pacha. “I can go where ever they need me to go.”

The 5th Kandak is responsible for resupplying the other kandaks operating in Helmand Province.  Currently, the Marines from the EPT escort the ANA to and from forward operating bases, but as more soldiers become qualified operators, the 5th Kandak can take over more responsibilities.

“That’s what we’re doing here as a partnering team,” concluded Booth.  “We are trying to make it where they can stand alone during training and missions.”

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