By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 – Members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are working hard toward helping Afghanistan become a self-reliant nation by 2014.
And that mission involves the training of Afghan security forces, as well as killing and arresting insurgents, said a senior U.S. Army officer posted in Afghanistan.
Army Col. Howard Arey, chief of staff for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan’s deputy commander for regional support, yesterday spoke during a “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable about how ISAF officials coordinate and integrate the NATO training mission with regional commands and Afghan security forces.
They do three things, he said: “They integrate, they build, and they sustain.”
Arey said integration comes into play primarily in training. Regional support commanders make sure training sites are well-run and well-led so NATO trainers can provide the best training for future Afghan soldiers and police.
“We've got over 60 training sites and trainers -- and we have a capacity of over 30,000 a month of what we can train in the Afghan National Army and police,” he said. “And that happens all over the country of Afghanistan.”
The colonel said regional commands also provide the security necessary for major construction projects carried out by U.S. Army and Air Force engineers. Regional commands also build their own tactical infrastructure.
“I'm talking about police substations and combat outposts and forward operating bases,” Arey said. “Each of these [regional] commanders has an organic engineer cell that's out on the ground every day, building the tactical infrastructure so that the Afghan National Army and police can get down to where the fight is at.”
Sustainment comes in a variety of ways, Arey said. Providing support for troops on the ground, assisting with Afghan security force operations and continued integration with other forces in the country is a job that won’t stop until NATO’s mission there is complete, he added.
Embedding troops with newly trained Afghan units is one way regional commands help to sustain Afghanistan, the colonel said.
Going into the future, sustainment will become an Afghan matter, but for now, Arey said, the training command’s regional support function is there to help.
“We've still got some growing to do [to meet Afghan forces’ recruiting goals], and we'll continue to do that both in the army and the police, but we are very much looking forward to the next stage -- what happens when you get to steady state,” the colonel said.
“The training doesn't just stop,” he added. “Just like in the United States military, soldiers will leave the military and they'll have to be replaced. There will always be this continuous need for training and regenerating the force.”