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Learning their trade, holding their own


Written by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs

101st Sustainment Brigade - LifelinersFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionBagram Airfield, Afghanistan – As with any military worldwide, the Afghan national army is more than just “boots on the ground,” as it offers a variety of trades and skills that are necessary to keep it running efficiently.

That is what 10 of its soldiers of the 201st Corps Logistical Kandak and the 5th Combat Service Support Kandak, 201st Corps, Afghan national army are learning during their maintenance course here at Bagram Air Field.

The ANA soldiers, who work alongside the 10st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, are taking the 45-day course to learn the basics of mechanical maintenance of their vehicles and equipment, and welding. The course is also a continued step in helping the country learn how to stand on its own.

Soldiers with the Afghan National Army work on an M1114 vehicle as part of their maintenance training at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes)

Soldiers with the Afghan National Army work on an M1114 vehicle as part of their maintenance training at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Pete Mayes)

“These soldiers are making history,” said Command Sgt. Major Katrina Najee, command sergeant major for the 101st Special Troops Battalion. “The ANA is so proud of their country. We want to help them stand on their own and support their country.”

The feeling was mutual from the ANA soldiers.

“The army needs everything, and we are building the army from pieces,” said Taj Mohammad Rangeen, a master sergeant with the 201st CLK, ANA speaking through an interpreter.

Turyali Ali, a soldier also assigned to the 201st CLK, ANA, has been working for one whole day on an M1114 vehicle for his training.

“I did a lot of work here. I took the wheel off and I’m still working on it,” he said. “I’ve done this kind of work previously. In Gamberi, I will work and teach my fellow soldiers how to do it.”

The course is being conducted by the 401st Army Field Support Brigade. The Special Troops Battalion, also known as “Sustainers” are acting as advisors to the ANA, ensuring that they have what need to complete the course.

Sgt. 1st Class Luis Rivera, 101st STB Operations non-commissioned officer in charge, said the ANA soldiers are learning how to work on the M1114 vehicle, including body work.

“So far it’s good,” he said. “The soldiers are excited to be working on equipment. The vehicles they’re working on are used for actual real-world missions.”

The welding course is brand new for the ANA soldiers. Instructor Chris Parr said learning the science of welding comes down to repetition.

“It’s that, muscle memory …for someone to come off the street and learn to weld takes a bit of time,” he said. “These guys have been doing nothing but welding for the past two days, so they’ll pick it pretty quick.”

Parr , a senior welder with AC First, a private contracting company, said the ANA soldiers got “tired” of just welding and wanted to actually create something. “They started making a chair,” he said. “Next projects we’ll have them start building lockers for their equipment, and the final project will be constructing a toolbox which they can take home.”

Najee said partnerships and mentoring programs like this one go a long way in U.S.-Afghan relations.

“We always have to keep in mind that they are starting from scratch and that we have to be patient as they learn to do this,” Najee said. “We want them to know that we do care about them and that we are not trying to disrespect them or their traditions.”




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