Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Nematullah Kushiwal (second from right), Ground Forces Command G3, reviews lessons learned thus far Jan. 17 during an exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan. Advisors and mentors from the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command conducted an exercise Jan. 14-18 to help train their Afghan Ground Forces Command partners in security operations. (U.S. Air Force photo byt Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz)
KABUL, Afghanistan ― Advisors and mentors from the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command conducted an exercise Jan. 14 – 18 to help train their Afghan Ground Forces Command partners in security operations.
The exercise is the first in a series of scheduled exercises to prepare Afghan National Army members for a final operational capability exercise in June.
"[The exercise scenario] is designed behind replacing or reinforcing one corps with a kandak (the Afghan equivalent of a battalion) from another corps based on previous operations over the last few weeks … and the requirement is for them to be reinforced in order to go through the winter season for their security operations,” said U.S. Army Maj. Trevor Sullins, GFC G-7 senior advisor. "The purpose of this exercise is to get them ready for the upcoming initial operational capability validation in February.”
U.S. Army Col. Lapthe Flora, GFC director, said one of the training objectives was to help ANA members with critical thinking.
"For this particular exercise we really focused on the military decision making process,” he said.
Creating the exercise scenario was a collaborative effort between the GFC and IJC.
"The advisors and mentors came together, created the initial scenario and briefed [the proposed scenario] to the Afghans,” said Sullins. "They took the scenario and adjusted accordingly, so they have taken ownership of the exercise.” GFC members brought their home field advantage into the mix and adjusted the scenario for a deeper level of realism. "They put some of the finer details in as far as which corps, location, the recent attacks leading up to the need for reinforcement, weather injects … we had a very basic premise of resupplying one corps and it was primarily logistical in nature,” said Sullins. "That's key to this whole thing … they know the terrain, many of them have operated in it, they've been in the corps at this level, so they're able to provide those finer injects that, while it's a fictional scenario, it provides more realism.”
IJC advisors remained cognizant of the local culture as they worked and trained with their Afghan partners.
"We are very sensitive to their way of doing things,” said Flora. "We suggest and recommend a solution, but not the solution. For the most part, they are appreciative of it and that gives us a lot of motivation to train and advise them.
"With any exercise, when one trains Afghan friends, the most important thing is one should not dictate,” he added. "We need to be patient and respectful of the way they do things. Just because some can't read and write doesn't mean they are stupid. They're quite clever, actually.”
The advisors and mentors drew energy from what seemed to be an unending supply of enthusiasm from the Afghan soldiers.
"They are very eager to learn,” Flora said. "These are high-ranking officers but they are willing to learn. It's definitely an honor and a privilege to train and work with them. They definitely have bright, patriotic people who want nothing but the best for Afghanistan.”
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
Headquarters International Security Assistance Force