CAMP GARM-SHER, Afghanistan --
Personnel with Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s Embedded Partnering Team recently implemented plans to increase the Afghan national army’s ability to conduct independent operations.
In October 2010, the Marines and sailors of CLB-3’s EPT began training, mentoring and partnering with soldiers of the ANA’s 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. In early December, CLB-3’s EPT also began mentoring 1st Brigade ANA soldiers located at Camp Garm-sher in an effort to enhance 5/1/215’s operability and further their progression as a unit capable of operating independent from coalition assistance. Garm-sher, which is attached to Camp Dwyer, is a military installation used as a base of operations for the ANA’s 1st Brigade logistics headquarters in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
According to 1st Sgt. William J. Banks, senior enlisted mentor, EPT, CLB-3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), the purpose for dividing their partnering team is to implement a rotating training schedule that allows them to provide direct support to ANA units operating throughout Helmand province. Currently, CLB-3’s EPT is responsible for mentoring more than 350 ANA soldiers.
“True to form, we’re here to advise, mentor and focus on providing [5/1/215] with tactical logistics support,” said Banks, a native of New York City. “We give them the tools to be successful. The by-product of our efforts is in the ANA’s ability to accomplish [logistics patrols] by themselves.”
Though CLB-3’s EPT are taking a more “hands off ” approach to advising their counterparts, the soldiers with 5/1/215 are not yet conducting all of their operations independently. Any combat logistics patrols through areas deemed hostile still require the Marines’ direct support.
“Though it’s for security purposes, accompanying the ANA is mutually beneficial,” Banks continued. “Though they may already be capable [of independent operations], we provide a sense of comfort in those areas. One of the challenges of mentoring the ANA is to convey our points in such a manner that they learn without realizing it. A lot is done through building relationships, establishing rapport and influencing their actions without insulting anyone. We have to recognize the cultural differences to make a difference.”
Combat Logistics Battalion 3’s EPT, and several other coalition embedded teams operating throughout Afghanistan, will continue to mentor ANA units to prepare them to operate independently.