Vermont National Guard Trains Afghan Army Trainers
By Staff Sgt. Timothy M. Williams, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 7, 2004 National Guard Soldiers with the 124th Regional Training Institute from Colchester, Vt., are here to "train the trainers" and teach Afghan National Army members how to become better soldiers.
"Our main role is to aid in the establishment of the Afghan National Army and to mentor and guide the Afghan officers and (noncommissioned officers)," said Capt. Scott R. Cadieux from Georgia, Vt. "We're here to help make their army more efficient and more effective. We also want to bring the 'work smarter, not harder' type of philosophy and bring their military leadership competencies toward a more western-type philosophy."
Cadieux is serving as the ANA mentor for the Officer and NCO Training Brigade. In his civilian job, he is a financial consultant for Fidelity Investments in Boston.
The coalition also has contributed to the training of the ANA in various ways. The French are responsible for training the officers, and the British are responsible for training the NCOs. The ANA trains its soldiers on fundamentals, which include basic training.
Cadieux said he helps the French and British armies, providing guidance and expertise in training both officers and NCOs.
Part of the training the ANA receives reflects NATO doctrine, the captain said. "It's not American doctrine, it's not British, and it's not French. It is NATO. We try to find the best doctrine" among the three for the ANA, he added.
Meeting and working with the ANA was very tense when the 124th first arrived in Afghanistan, he said.
"Initially I don't think they knew how to take us and we didn't know how to take them," Cadieux said. "But things have changed. I think they know we're here to help them and then get out and go back home. They know we're not here for the long haul."
The unit had to overcome communication and cultural barriers while training the ANA, Cadieux said, adding that he's encouraged by the ANA's strength and resilience. While the ANA members may not know everything at first, they are constantly learning and improving, he said, adding that he sees them becoming more visionary and starting to think more "outside the box."
In addition to helping with the combat leader course, Cadieux and other members of the 124th RTI have participated in the growth and reconstruction of Afghanistan in another way.
"On this side, I've started Operation Sandbox, which is a humanitarian effort in hopes to have an immediate impact on the local communities of Kabul as well as future Afghanistan," Cadieux said. "We've touched over 3,000 children through donations, and have done three runs to different orphanages, each run consisting of a deuce-and-a-half (truck) full of donations."
A touching moment for Cadieux came during a donation convoy to northern Kabul.
"The orphanage didn't know we were coming, and when we arrived the coordinator came out in tears," he recalled. "The coordinator, who spoke perfect English, was very appreciative of the fact that we had a truck full of donations for the kids," Cadieux said.
"She had $300 left in her orphanage checking account, and was praying. She said she prayed (the previous) night that a miracle would happen," Cadieux said. "It was just a very good feeling, and an honor to give those gifts on behalf of everyone back home."
The donations come from families and friends of the 124th RTI. They come from many churches and schools across New England, a culmination of many different people's efforts back home, Cadieux said.
The soldiers of the 124th RTI will soon head back home and will leave a foundation for the ANA to followin continuing the growth, security and stability of their country, making it a stronger and more resilient Afghanistan, Cadieux said.
(Army Staff Sgt. Timothy M. Williams is assigned to the 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)