CAMP GARMSER, Afghanistan --
With coalition forces reducing their footprint in Afghanistan, advisor teams continue to prepare the Afghan National Army for security responsibilities here.
Eight Marines and one corpsman with the Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) work daily with ANA soldiers of the 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade at Camp Garmser, Afghanistan, to improve their logistical operations.
Since arriving in April, the CLB-5 EPT has taught multiple courses to help create a capable, independent organization. From combat life saving courses to combat vehicle operators training to live fire weapons ranges, the EPT strives to offer as much instruction to the ANA as possible.
“When we first got here, we hit the ground running trying to help out with everything we could,” said Gunnery Sgt. Earl Delack, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the CLB-5 EPT.
The 5th Kandak is one of the ANA units in Helmand Province that is rated as independent.
“They are able to go out and operate individually without support from Marines,” said Delack. “They can run convoys back and forth to the other kandaks and provide logistical support. A lot of the other kandaks are still operating with Marines, but this group is able to conduct missions independently.”
As a logistical support kandak, the unit is broken down into sections. Each section head has a Marine or sailor EPT counterpart to help operations run smoothly. From headquarters, communications and maintenance sections to transportation service, preventive maintenance and medical sections, each area has a Marine or sailor to provide guidance when requested.
“The interaction is great,” said Staff Sgt. Harry Petit Homme, the Headquarters and Service, and Transportation Services mentor on the EPT. “These guys are pretty good on their own; we’re just here to give them that extra boost. We try to help them out as much as we can because at the end of it we’re all going back home, and they are all going to stay here.”
Though the ANA still faces big challenges, they continue to do their best with what they have.
“They try to take care of whatever they have right now,” said Petit Homme. “… [T]hey want to do their job right.”
To minimize issues with downed vehicles, the EPT created a driving course the ANA now teaches to help drivers improve their capabilities and reduce mechanical issues. Transmissions are a common maintenance problem because not all the drivers are proficient at driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.
Additionally, the EPT conducts live fire ranges on a weekly basis with the ANA, firing rocket propelled grenades, crew-served weapons and rifles to improve their accuracy.
“In this program, we will plan for our future,” said Lt. Col. Amanullah Khobani, commander of the 5th Kandak.
The EPT and ANA working together daily helps strengthen relations and sets up Afghanistan for a smooth transition when coalition forces leave, as well as a brighter future for the citizens of the nation.
“I enjoy what we’re doing here because I see how these people live,” said Petit Homme. “If we can improve their livelihood -- if the EPT can help-- I enjoy being a part of that.”