Military Training Academy Preparing Afghan Soldiers for Future
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2006 The nearly 300 American and other international troops working at the Kabul Military Training Center here can see the fruits of their labor every day.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey (center), senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listens to a briefing during a visit to the Kabul Military Training Center Nov. 22. During the visit, both classroom and physical fitness training demonstrated the capabilities of the growing Afghan National Army. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This is the most rewarding experience of my life,” Army 1st Sgt. Don Webb said of his duties at the training center. “I would have to spend thousands of dollars traveling around the world to meet people from as many cultures as I deal with here.”
Webb explained that Canadian, British, French, and New Zealand troops work to “train the trainer” here. The international servicemembers work with Afghan instructors to help them train some 4,000 to 6,000 Afghan soldiers at all levels on any given day. The international forces belong to the Training Assistance Group of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix.
During a visit to the academy today, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff observed several types of training and addressed two groups of trainees.
After watching a platoon of drill sergeant candidates conduct a physical-training session modeled exactly on U.S. Army training standards, Gainey said he felt like he was back in drill sergeant school, which he attended 26 years ago. “There’s no greater honor than to be a drill sergeant,” Gainey told the group, “because you are charged with training other soldiers.
“Always keep yourself mentally sharp, physically fit and spiritually strong, and you’ll be a good drill sergeant,” he said.
Gainey also observed computer-assisted marksmanship training and briefly spoke to a basic training class on use of tactical radios.
Students nodded in understanding and agreement as Gainey told them, through a translator, that learning to operate the radios now could save their lives later. “It’s a very good radio, but it’s only as good as you are with this radio,” Gainey said. “I would challenge you to know it, learn it inside and out, learn everything about it. … Listen to everything the instructor says; listen, and put it in your heart.”
The motto of the Kabul Military Training Center is “Unity Starts Here.” Command Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi, the sergeant major of the Afghan National Army, recently changed the motto from “Victory Starts Here.” There can be no victory unless unity comes first, Roshan explained.
He said academy officials are working on signs of the new motto to put around the academy. Others will reflect the tenets of the newly approved Afghan national Army Soldier Creed and NCO Creed.
The academy trains soldiers from basic training and advanced individual training through junior and senior noncommissioned officer courses, as well as drill sergeant and staff NCO courses. All students at the academy also receive courses on English and computers.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Foesch, senior enlisted leader for the Training Assistance Group, praised the American troops working to help train the Afghan instructors. “I have got some of the hardest-working, most dedicated soldiers, sailors and airmen in the forces today,” he told Gainey. “I can’t be more proud of the work they do and the product they’re pushing out here.
“There’s only two courses here that are totally run by coalition, … everything else is ANA-led with American mentorship,” he said.
Foesch also told Roshan he should be proud of the Afghan soldiers working here. “The ANA has got a lot to be proud of as well, Sergeant Major. You’ve got some great soldiers out there doing a great job making sure your army is strong enough to take over this operation, and you should be very proud as well.”
Gainey, looking at the high stone walls that surround the academy, said he was amazed at the level of training here. “When you drive by, you have no idea so much training is going on behind these walls,” he said.
He told troops working here they will always have something to be proud of. “You can always say, ‘I helped people help themselves,’” he said. “There’s not many people that are your age that could say that.”
Michael Peterson, a country music singer traveling with Gainey courtesy of the USO, told a group of American troops working here that he was impressed by what he saw at the training academy. “I was truly inspired by the faces of those young (Afghan trainees),” he said. “Maybe the same look was on the faces of young Americans in 1776.”