Okinawa Marines mentor Afghan soldiers
A team of 20 U.S. Marines deployed from Okinawa are in eastern Afghanistan training Afghan soldiers on everything from combat to paperwork.
Called Embedded Training Team 7-2, the Marines are split into teams that advise two Afghan “kandaks,” the equivalent of U.S. military battalions. The teams work in remote locations with the 3rd and 5th Kandaks of the 3rd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps in some of the most remote locations in the country.
“You just don’t always know what’s going to be next. You just have to use your experience and knowledge,” Marine 1st Sgt. Matthew S. Seamans, a 42-year-old from Shorewood, Minn., said in a news release.
Seamans spends most of his time mentoring the Afghan sergeant major, along with administration and executive officers, officials said. His duties include making flight arrangements, community construction projects and budgeting issues.
“We’ve all had our time up in the turret and behind the wheel (of a Humvee),” Seamans said.
And that extends to the team chief, Lt. Col. James F. Werth, a former intelligence battalion commander. Werth mentors the Afghan commanders and intelligence officers, along with the operations and executive officers. But, that’s not all.
“Where else does a lieutenant colonel get to drive and gun?” Werth asked. “Where else does a first sergeant get to drive and gun?”
Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu, is a 42-year-old hospital corpsman with the team. His duties include guiding the ANA medical doctor and medics, and regularly driving one of the Humvees.
The team is supported by two South Carolina National Guard soldiers, Army Cpl. Kelly A. Richardson of Columbia, S.C., and Spc. John W. Francisco of Akron, Ohio, who alternate roles as gunner and driver.