Thursday, June 03, 2010
Minnesota Guard, Croatia train for Afghanistan deployment
National Guard Bureau
(6/3/10) - Members of the Minnesota National Guard are currently preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan as part of an Operational Mentor and Liaison Team with the Croatian armed forces.
The OMLT is an extension of the National Guard State Partnership Program in which Minnesota and Croatia are paired. Together they will coach, teach and mentor a battalion of the Afghan National Army.
“We’re learning the state of the Afghan Army,” said Army Maj. David Baer, who works in Minnesota’s Joint Force Headquarters. “Obviously, [the Afghan Army] has units that are exceptionably well trained and capable of executing missions … but we’re also learning about the other units that need that mentoring and coaching from the advisor teams.”
Having the members of the Afghan National Army at the training center in Hohenfels, Germany, is a vital part of the training, Baer said in an interview with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center public affairs office.
“Having them here so we can actually talk to Afghan soldiers about Afghanistan, the situation on the ground, the Afghan Army and the cultur—before we get over there—is vital to our mission success,” he said.
The Minnesota Guard isn’t the only group learning from the training.
“The training is very good,” said Afghan National Army Lt. Col. Ahmad Ali. “We will surely use this training in Afghanistan to help [us].”
The OMLT program is part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force’s effort to help develop the Afghan National Army and is made up of 27 nations, which have or have pledged to contribute to the program.
“We are one team,” said Baer about working with Croatia Armed Forces. “We are training hard here so that our [operational procedures] and reaction drills are the same, whether it’s a Croatian or American.”
“Luckily, Croatian tactics and doctrines are based off of American tactics and doctrines, so it’s just little things here-and-there that we have to work on.”
As of October 2009, there were 59 OMLTs operating in all five regions of Afghanistan, according to a NATO fact sheet.
The Ohio Guard and Hungary are also training for a deployment to Afghanistan. The Illinois Guard and Poland are currently deployed, and the Colorado Guard and Slovenia will deploy later this year.