War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Training Turns Afghan Civilians into Soldiers

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Afghan civilians are transformed into soldiers on a daily basis at the Kabul Military Training Center. The center, located just outside the Afghan capital, provides initial training to recruits and advanced training for noncommissioned and commissioned officers. Classes include basic training, advanced combat training, officer candidate school and noncommissioned officer academy.

American, French, British, Romanian and Polish mentors from the Combined Training Assistance Group -- part of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan -- offer the Afghan instructors who run the school feedback on lesson plans and operations.

"An Afghan instructor giving his own experience and relating those experiences to the lesson he's giving, students respond well to it," said U.S. Army Capt. Rob Simmons.

More than 8,000 recruits train at the center at any given time, with another 8,000 training at five satellite locations around the country.

The goal is to develop a skilled army capable of disarming and dismantling illegal factions, fighting terrorism and assuring the security and progress of the political process, officials said.

"It is the duty and responsibility of the army to serve the people and maintain the sovereignty, independence and borders of our country," said Afghan Col. Sharif Ahmad, the center's operating course chief. "That's why we train our soldiers. Our army is in a basic state. If we had a good army, we wouldn't have aggression from al-Qaida and our other enemies."

The literacy rate of new recruits poses a challenge for the center's instructors, officials said. Soldiers who can read and write are assigned positions in logistics, medical services and communications. The others attend training three days a week to improve their abilities.

Only 20 to 30 percent of recruits are literate, U.S. Army Maj. Brian Foley said. "It's a struggle right now," he acknowledged, "but that's a result of 30 years of war."

(From a NATO International Security Assistance Force Public Affairs Office news release.)

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