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Soldiers Train Afghan Army for Mission Readiness

By Air Force Tech Sgt. Jill LaVoie
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 5, 2009 – Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are improving the Afghan National Army’s ability to respond to enemy activities through various joint training exercises at Combat Outpost Pegasus.

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Army Sgt. Tyler Bradley explains how to line up the sights of an AK-47 assault rifle during basic rifle marksmanship training with the Afghan National Army. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie
  

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Delta Company soldiers are training Afghan soldiers on basic infantry tactics, including basic rifle marksmanship, first aid, building clearing and how to react to enemy contact.

“I requested this training because it’s good for the soldiers,” said Afghan Army Capt. Abul Salami, a company commander from 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps. “Many forget some of the skills, because they don’t have the opportunity to train that often.”

Most of the soldiers have received about five months of training prior to the basic rifleman marksmanship class, but for some, it was their first training experience.

“Many of them displayed infantryman skills, such as a good sight picture and sight alignment --– essential keys to being a skilled marksman,” said Army Staff Sgt. Jeffery Adams, a platoon sergeant from Waterloo, Ala.

But the training was more than improving allies’ infantry skills; it was about the next step for the Afghan military, he added.

“We give them the initial training and teach their [noncommissioned offices] and leaders how to do it,” Adams said. “Eventually, they will be able to train themselves without having to be guided by us.”

The overall goal is for the ANA soldiers not to need the assistance of U.S. forces. “We are training them to replace us,” Army 1st Lt. David Ochs, of Charlottesville, Va., said.

Though the construction on their post hasn’t begun yet, the Afghan soldiers remain motivated and willing to receive the advanced training.

“These guys are extremely motivated and live in harsh conditions --– worse than our soldiers,” said Army Capt. Michael Soyka, Delta Company commander, a Cleveland native. “The least we can do is give them some good training and help them be at a better state of readiness. Training of the ANA is the most important mission we have out here. It gets them ready to take our job and let this country stand on its own.”

(Air Force Tech Sgt. Jill LaVoie serves with the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. Jeffrey Farno points out details for good sight alignment as an Afghan National Army soldier demonstrates the proper prone position. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSoldiers of the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, look on as Afghan National Army soldiers zero their weapons during basic rifle marksmanship training. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA soldier from the 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, talks an Afghan National Army soldier through his zeroing target during basic rifle marksmanship training. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jill LaVoie   
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