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Lance Cpl. Sean M. Kirby, 20, communication mentor, Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), teaches a class to Afghan National Army soldiers aboard Camp Garm-sher, Afghanistan, Jan. 1. Marines and sailors with CLB-3's EPT are currently mentoring ANA logistics Marines to operate independent from coalition forces.

Photo by Cpl. Daniel H. Woodall

Class Is in Session: Marines Educate Afghan Soldiers

1 Jan 2011 | Cpl. Daniel Woodall

Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s Embedded Partnering Team are conducting instructional classes to benefit soldiers assigned to the Afghan National Army’s 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps aboard Camp Garm-sher, Afghanistan.

The ANA logistics soldiers based out of Camp Garm-sher provide logistics support for units operating in southern Helmand. Personnel with CLB-3’s EPT are conducting classroom mentoring sessions to enhance 5/1/215’s military prowess and further their operational capabilities.

The approximately 350 soldiers comprising 5/1/215 have been training alongside CLB-3’s EPT since October at Camp Shorabak, located in northern Helmand province. Confident in 5/1/215’s abilities to conduct logistics operations independent from coalition forces, CLB-3’s EPT plans to shift from providing direct operational support to the Afghan unit to assuming a true advisory role.

Besides educating ANA soldiers within their military occupational fields, EPT personnel are also instilling a sense of professionalism and pride that ANA personnel seem to emulate.

“We’re developing these soldiers – their NCO's – as leaders to [positively] affect the unit’s operations,” said Sgt. Aubrey W. Castille, detachment noncommissioned officer in charge, Camp Dwyer detachment, EPT, CLB-3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “When we depart from here, if they’ve learned something from us and then pass it on, then we’ve done our job. We have to remain enthusiastic, and cross-training the sections plays a big part in that. We teach the communications soldiers how to drive and the [motor] transportation soldiers how to use communication [tools].”

“The most rewarding aspect of my time here is that I’ve befriended a lot of the ANA soldiers,” continued Castille, a 23-year-old native of Jacksonville, N.C. “I’ve presented myself as a professional, and I see them emulate that. Our conduct goes a long way in developing their small-unit leadership.”

Though CLB-3’s EPT recently began these classes, the ANA soldiers are showing noticeable progress due to previous training they have received from other coalition embedded teams in the past. According to Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Bhavananda Hickox, 24, medical mentor, EPT, CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD), the soldiers of 5/1/215’s medical section are much more capable of providing services to their battalion than ever before.

“Down in Garm-sher, these medics have their own clinic and are treating their own patients,” said Hickox, a native of San Diego. “They are capable of taking care of their own soldiers for extended periods of time. It’s difficult to teach medicine to a group of soldiers who don’t speak the same language. It may take a while to get our points across, but when they do understand it and when we see them perform [medical tasks], we know they will be able to operate independently.”

Teaching the ANA to operate entirely on their own may be a work in progress, but the efforts of embedded partnering teams are expediting the learning process. Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s EPT will continue to mentor 5/1/215 soldiers in eight-week training blocks aboard Camp Garm-sher until they redeploy this spring.


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