One of the bakers in the DFAC shows part of his daily output of na'an (leavened, oven-baked flatbread) for the 9,000 Afghan recruits and their training officers at the Kabul Military Training Center.
CAMP ALAMO, Afghanistan – As Coalition advisers work to help the Afghanistan National Army grow both in quantity and quality to enable the nation to protect itself, there is a lesser-known, but vital effort occurring to augment the military's expanded capacity.
That effort is to assist the ANA chefs to improve both the nutrition and hygiene within the army's dining facilities.
Each day at the Kabul Military Training Center, about 10 km east of the nation's capital on Jalalabad Road, more than 9,000 recruits line up for chow three times a day in one of nine DFACs supplied by three kitchens and a bake shop on the sprawling 6,500-acre complex.
Picture a pyramid where nine officers direct 30 NCOs to supervise 240 civilian cooks. Helping to support that pyramid are two Canadian NCOs who serve as advisors to help their Afghan colleagues feed the masses at KMTC. They are Sergeants Paul Mathieu and Mike Louvelle.
The food is sent to KMTC by the Afghan Ministry of Defense. A typical lunch or dinner for an ANA recruit is meat with rice, baby bananas or watermelon (when in season), boiled vegetables or potatoes and the omnipresent na'an bread. The KMTC bakery prepares more than 30,000 of the elephant ear-shaped breads each day.
As with other aspects of training, communication can be a hindrance. For the Coalition advisers, the goal is not only to help the Afghans prepare nutritious food, but also to educate them on the necessity of making sure they are doing so in sanitary conditions, establishing minimum hygiene standards for the chefs to meet in equipment and facilities.
The Coalition aim is, through effective leadership, to raise the standards by which ANA cooks perform their duties. They stress not only how to prepare the food and keep the facilities in a sanitary manner, but also why that is important. That is not as easy a task as it might seem to Westerners. For example, ANA cooks routinely have used laundry detergent when cleaning the DFAC floors.
The Ministry of Defense and Coalition advisers recognize the important role food preparation and hygiene are to the success of the army and training at KMTC. Of the nine DFACS, two are in tents. Also, a new bake shop is under construction and should be ready for use by mid-May
Story by Gary Hengstler, Dyna-corp