By Army Spc. Gregory J. Argentieri
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 23, 2008 - Afghan border police officers learned advanced small-arms repair and maintenance skills from U.S. soldiers of Company B, 173rd Support Battalion, at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, May 1-8. The U.S. Advanced Instructed Small-Arms Repair Course is the second course this group of border police attended. The month-long basic course was held in March.
The weapons maintenance course included instruction on repair, cleaning and inspection procedures on nine different types of small arms.
The Afghan border police officers trained mainly on U.S.-made weapons, said the primary instructor, Army Sgt. Micaiah T. Ragins. Many of the weapons used by the border police and Afghan National Army soldiers are being swapped out for the U.S. standard-issue weapons such as the M-16 rifle and M4 carbine.
"We are very attentive and focused during the weapons class, and we try to memorize everything so we can always remember," said Staff Sgt. Ghaljay, a border patrol officer from Kunar province. "This is exactly the training we need. Our instructor is very good, and he gets along well with us."
The goal of this training is similar to many other U.S.-led Afghan-training classes. Upon graduation, this group of specially schooled border police officers will return to their separate units and train their Afghan counterparts in weapons repair and maintenance.
Ghaljay said the border police had little weapons-repair experience before this training, but will now set aside every Thursday for weapons cleaning.
"Weapons repair and maintenance is very important to us, because this is our profession," said Pvt. Mohammad Taheer, a border patrol officer from Jalalabad. "This weapons course is a great help to us in defending our country and for the future security of Afghanistan."
As a result of weapons-repair training, this group of border patrol officers might have as much knowledge in small-arms maintenance as the average U.S. soldier, Ragins said.
"I think we are doing our part in increasing cultural awareness and relations between the U.S. and Afghan [forces]," Ragins said. "Our objective is to keep more weapons in the fight by basically maximizing the reliability of the ABP weapon systems."
After the students completed their week-long advanced course and passed the final exam, they received certificates of proficiency in small-arms repair and two weapon-repair tool kits.
"The ABP officers will talk to their neighbors about the weapons training by the U.S. and how it is very different from when Russia was here," Najeebullah Halem, a border police interpreter.
The course allowed the curious border patrol officers to witness some U.S. culture, Halem added, a side benefit he said will attract more people to the border police ranks.
(Army Spc. Gregory J. Argentieri serves in 173rd Airborne Brigade Public Affairs.)