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82nd Airborne, Afghan Army Share Ideas

By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORT POLK, La., Oct. 30, 2006 – Members of the Afghan National Army have conducted training on American military equipment to prepare for upcoming missions at the Joint Readiness Training Center here.

Forty-two Afghan soldiers and police officers arrived here Oct. 23 to train with 82nd Airborne Division soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.

“We’ve been working to familiarize (the Afghan soldiers) with our .50 caliber (machine gun), M107 sniper rifle and night vision goggles,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Colin Cleek, a member of the scout and sniper platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

The 82nd Airborne paratroopers also trained the Afghan soldiers on map reading.

“Though many of the 42 ANA soldiers grew up in a war-torn country and have combat experience, they did not have modern equipment to work with,” Army Staff Sgt. James Darnell, a platoon sergeant, said.

At Fort Polk, the Afghans are learning tactics and how to use weapon systems. “The better they are trained, the better prepared they will be to counter the enemy,” Darnell said.

The Afghan soldiers were pleased with the training and seemed eager to take on a greater responsibility for their country’s security, U.S. officials said.

“It will be very useful and practical to us in Afghanistan,” Jomar Nayz, an Afghan National Army team leader, said. “We never saw some of this equipment before and appreciate the U.S. soldiers teaching us. What we learn here we will teach other soldiers back in our country.”

The paratroopers also learned from the Afghans. “It’s a good experience for my soldiers who never deployed to get a chance to interact with soldiers from other countries,” Cleek said. “Their situation is our situation. They’re as much a part of the fight as we are, so it is good to work with them here.”

Darnell, who spent nine months in Iraq training with an Iraqi company, agreed. “It is important to know their culture, the do’s and don’ts,” he said.

Just as the Afghans were eager to learn from the paratroopers, they too were eager to share their knowledge. “They know the (Afghan) land and territory better than any of us,” Cleek said. “It was a good learning experience interacting with them.”

(Army Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky is assigned to the Joint Readiness Training Center Public Affairs Office.)

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