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Afghan Soldiers Graduate From Language Course

By Col. Randy Pullen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 30, 2004 – Twenty-seven Afghan National Army officers and noncommissioned officers graduated from the Intensive English Language Course at the Kabul Military Training Center Sept. 2.

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Afghan National Army Central Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi, left, addresses his classmates during the graduation of the Intensive English Language Course at the Kabul Military Training Center Sept. 2. Photo by Col. Randy Pullen, USA

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The six-month course was taught by Roberto Farias and Urinda Hernandez, two civilian instructors from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base based in San Antonio; and Capt. Jeffrey Heyse and Master Sgt. James Hill, two Air Force military training instructors. Students were initially grouped by their pre-existing English abilities.

Addressing the graduating students, Brig. Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Asifi, the center's commander, said that learning English is a critical skill for ANA soldiers because of the need to understand their coalition trainers, who accompany them on combat missions. Being able to communicate with and understand each other makes it easier to accomplish their missions.

Maj. Gen. Hamayoon Fauzi, the Afghan deputy minister of defense for education affairs, agreed with Asifi about the military necessity of their training. Fauzi said the Afghan soldiers need to learn not only English, but also other languages in order to work with soldiers from the different countries of the coalition.

"We have an expression here in Afghanistan," said Fauzi. "It is that anyone who knows a language is one person, the one who knows two languages is two persons, and the one who knows multiple languages is multiple persons."

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard expressed his appreciation to the KMTC and the English-language instructors for their work, which will ultimately benefit not only the Afghan National Army, but also the embedded trainers of Task Force Phoenix. Moorhead, commands Task Force Phoenix, the coalition organization that is helping to train the ANA.

"I'm proud of the graduates today who have gone through a different course of training in order to better serve the ANA and their nation," said Moorhead. "All the students were very dedicated and motivated to learn. Thank you for that dedication to serve your country."

Several students demonstrated their language abilities by speaking in English at the ceremony. "Six months ago, I was not able to speak or understand (more than) a few words of English," said ANA Maj. Abdul Wahid. "Now, I can speak and understand English very well."

ANA Command Sgt. Maj. Roshan Safi, the ANA's Central Corps command sergeant major, said he knows that his country is depending upon him as much as his family does. He also explained that his duty as a noncommissioned officer is to train soldiers. "I know how to pass the skills I have learned on to my subordinates, and they will pass them on to other soldiers," said Safi.

The graduates will now be assigned positions within the ANA to take advantage of their English ability. Some will also be considered for attendance at military schools in the United States.

No matter where they go next, they will be carrying out a promise made at the ceremony by one of the top graduates, ANA Lt. Naserullah.

"We will continue to learn," he said.

(Army Col. Randy Pullen is the public affairs officer for the Office of Military CooperationAfghanistan.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Capt. Jeffrey Heyse receives the Joint Service Achievement Medal from Maj. Gen. Hamayoon Fauzi, Afghan deputy minister of defense for education. Photo by Col. Randy Pullen, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard Moorhead, Task Force Phoenix commander, presents Urinda Hernandez, right, an instructor from the Defense Language Institute, the Commander's Award for Civilian Service medal. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mack Davis, USA  
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