NATO, Afghan troops train together
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 30, 2008
HOHENFELS, Germany — Afghan and NATO soldiers trained at the Joint Multinational Training Command this month as part of efforts to boost the size of the Afghan National Army by almost 70 percent.
Eighty Afghan soldiers spent 2½ weeks at Hohenfels training alongside troops from the United States, Germany, France, Hungary, Canada, Slovenia, Slovakia, Australia and Italy, according to Maj. Sean Coulter, Operations chief for JMTC’s Grizzly Observer Controller Team.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham, of the Security Transition Command—Afghanistan, said the JMTC training is key to a plan to increase the ANA by thousands of troops. According to The Associated Press the U.S. and Afghan governments agreed to increase personnel in the ANA from an earlier target of 80,000 men to 134,000.
Coulter said the NATO troops are organized into eight infantry and five combat service support Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams. The teams will deploy to Afghanistan to mentor ANA troops and work with the International Security Assistance Force.
At Hohenfels, the Afghans received technical training on how to conduct raids, how to react to contact and how to operate M-16 rifles that the United States is supplying to the ANA, he said.
During one exercise, Afghan troops raided a mock town with the help of liaison members after receiving intelligence in their native Dari language that a high-value target was there. The Afghans planned and executed the mission to apprehend the person while liaison personnel formed an outer cordon around the town, Coulter said.
"We are trying to get them used to planning logistics missions — thinking about and forecasting what the killer units need before they actually need it," Maj. Robert Hoffman said.
Col. Ghlam Jailani Shakir, the highest-ranking Afghan soldier training at JMTC, said his army relies heavily on ISAF to support its combat operations.
"If we attack somewhere or do any military operations, mostly ISAF is with us," he said.
Capt. Ryan Casper, 44, of Eau Claire, Wis., an embedded tactical trainer who mentors the ANA in Afghanistan, said combat service support is where the ANA has the greatest potential for growth.