Saturday, September 11, 2010

One step closer ...

Last month, I covered a ceremony officially opening a new infantry school in Kabul for the Afghan National Army. The move is a big step for the ANA as they work toward professionalizing their force. NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan and the Afghan government have spent much of the last 10 months building a force large enough to protect the country, with much of the focus on recruiting and end-strength goals. Now that the ANA has met their goal of 134,000 soldiers, two months early I might mention, they are turning their attention to building the necessary specialized skills – medical, infantry, communications, artillery, etc. – that make up a military.

Previously, infantry tactics, including reconnaissance and heavy weapons systems courses were taught under the Advanced Combat Training Brigade at the Kabul Military Training Center; now the ACT brigade is in the process of separating all advanced branch training, including artillery, maintenance, logistics, signal and engineer, into separate schools to enhance training.

The new school will allow the ANA to develop entry-level soldiers, NCOs and officers by providing more space for training, time and attention on infantry-specific skills. It will do much to boost the ability of the Afghan infantry soldiers and, perhaps even more importantly, will be run and taught by the Afghan army with support from the British. Slowly but surely U.S. and NATO forces are handing more and more responsibility over to the Afghans.

The first class of 211 students to go through the new school began training July 31, 2010. If courses run at full capacity, the new school will be able to accommodate up to 2,000 students at one time, or 14,000 infantrymen per year. This is a historic time for the Afghan National Security Forces. It seems every day there are more and more signs of progress and milestones reached and even though I didn’t have any direct impact on their success, I can’t help but feel proud of all that they’ve achieved.

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