Airmen Mentor Afghan Army Logistics Troops
By Staff Sgt. Ian Carrier, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2008 Airmen from 755th Expeditionary Support Squadron are mentoring Afghan National Army soldiers at the Logistics Support Operations Center here.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Natalie Cerchio, of the 755th Expeditionary Support Squadron, gives computer instruction to Afghan National Army Col. Dadagul on Feb 20, 2008. Cerchio is a mentor helping Afghan soldiers improve their logistics skills. Part of the training is to teach them to use computers to track their supplies. “This is the first time I have used computers, and with as much as I’ve learned, I will be able to train other people,” Dadagul said. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Ian Carrier, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The airmen work closely with their Afghan counterparts, helping them set up a logistics web throughout the country. The goal is to make the Afghan National Army a self-sufficient fighting force in the global war on terror.
The Logistics Support Operations Center is the primary logistics hub for the ANA and Afghan National Police in Afghanistan. The 90-man unit handles many kinds of materials, excluding medical supplies, which they expect to receive by the end of 2008, said Air Force Col. John McGuire, 755th Expeditionary Support Squadron and a senior mentor for the operations center.
Requests come in from the field to the customer service desk and are sent to the appropriate Logistics Support Operations Center offices. For example, a request for ammunition goes to Afghan Col. Tahir in the ammo section, whereas a request for clothing would go to Afghan Maj. Dagmarman Saber, field services director. The requests are then verified, the equipment sent to a depot, and it is issued.
“This is an interesting job,” McGuire said. “Small steps here make a big difference. It was a big step to get them to handle their own supplies. They knew the theory behind logistics, and we are mentoring them to help them improve. One of the challenges was to get agencies to talk to each other and getting the ANA to work together.”
“We have several depots in Kabul,” said Afghan Col. Nabi Ahmadzi, the Logistics Support Operations Center commander. “We supply all the ANA and ANP from these depots.”
Supplies must be transported to the depots, which is where the Distributing Office comes in. Afghan Lt. Colonel Quadoose, distribution commander, orders the vehicles needed to carry the supplies. “My daily duties are to take requests and make plans for trucks to deliver supplies to our customers,” Quadoose said. “Our supplies must be on time, and the priority is forward support depots. Since the LSOC was established, things have greatly improved. We used to move all of our supplies by civilian trucks, now we use mostly ANA trucks.
“I am 100 percent happy to work with our U.S. mentors,” Quadoose added. “If they were not here, we would not be able to function at this level.”
“We mentor and help with problems that may come up,” said Air Force Capt. Atley Gray, senior mentor for the Distribution Office. “We try as mentors to have our counterparts come up with solutions. This is their country; we try not to interfere. They come to us for guidance, and we give direction. We don’t tell them what to do.
“It’s been great working with (Ahmadzi) and his staff,” Gray said. “They are willing to learn. They thank me, and I thank them back, because it’s easier to teach people who want to learn.”
One of the ways the mentors are trying to streamline the logistical process is by getting Afghan soldiers up to speed on computers. The U.S. airmen teach the Afghans how to use spreadsheets instead of dry-erase boards, streamlining the data process.
Senior Master Sgt. Wendel Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Natalie Cerchio, Central Supply Depot mentors with the 755th Expeditionary Support Squadron, teach Afghan soldiers basic computer skills, such as using Microsoft Word and Excel. The training began in April, and 120 students have been trained.
“It is fun and challenging,” Cerchio said. “You have to break things down and start at the basic level. They are the future of this country, and someday they will be teaching others the skills we have taught them.”
“I like the computer a lot because it helps in our office very much,” said Afghan Col. Dadagul, a student in the Central Supply Depot Material Office. “This is the first time I have used computers, and with as much as I’ve learned, I will be able to train other people.”
An important link in the chain is the Central Movement Agency. This is where all the vehicles that transport supplies are kept. There are five truck companies: two light, one medium, one heavy and a headquarters company.
U.S. mentors at the Central Movement Agency help the Afghans with convoy scheduling, techniques, property-book management and fuel management.
Air Force Master Sgt. James Fink, a mentor at the Central Movement Agency, said about 100 convoys roll a week and run coordination with the Logistics Support Operations Center.
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Ian Carrier is assigned to American Forces Network Afghanistan.)