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U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)
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U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)
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Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan — In an open field, three howitzer D-30s are covered by a tarp. In a building next to them, several Afghan National Army soldiers lean over a map learning basic map reading skills with the help of U.S. Army Soldiers.
Working with the U.S. Army, the ANA soldiers learned basic artillery skills at Forward Operating Base Clark, Afghanistan, to help them become proficient and able to fight independent of coalition forces.
For six days a week over nine weeks, ANA soldiers met with U.S. Army Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, to learn the ins and outs of the howitzer D-30. On March 26, they learned about contour lines, elevation and the importance of forward observers understanding map reading, said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Patrick Tuffy, a platoon leader with Alpha Battery, 3rd Bn., 321st FA Regt. and a native of Highland Falls, N.Y.
The class was designed to teach ANA soldiers the three basic skill sets of artillery. Instructors broke the soldiers into three groups: the forward observers — the eyes; the fire directions center — the brains; and the gun line — the brawn, Tuffy said.
The objective of the class was to enable ANA soldiers to fire direct and indirect fire missions without the help of their coalition counterparts, said U.S. Army Sgt. Gerald Knighten, a section chief with the 3rd Bn., 321st FA Regt., in charge of the gun line portion of training and a native of Fayetteville, N.C.
The 3rd Bn., 321st FA Regt., originally an M-777 Howitzer artillery battery, faced the monumental task of relearning the D-30 Howitzer to teach the ANA soldiers.
The 777 differs from the D-30 because it is a newer model has a digital fire-control system and is a little more accurate.
The D-30 Howitzer, by contrast, has no computer system and requires manual computations, Tuffy said.
That meant hitting the books and brushing up on the skill sets required to operate the older system, Tuffy said.
In addition to map reading, the course covered basic artillery knowledge, sights and crew drills. It was important for the ANA soldiers to understand job titles, chain of command and where to be at any given time, Knighten said.
“If we’re not here, they need to be able to run the operation smoothly,” he said.
To really get their point across, the U.S. Army Soldiers had to see matters through their counterparts eyes, said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Williams, a senior adviser for the course from the 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, and a native of Los Angeles, Calif.
“We don’t want to make them the United States Army,” Williams said. “We want to help them do things their way, not make them do it our way.”
They did that by advising them and not just talking at them. The instructors asked them how they wanted to operate and then offered suggestions on how to make things better, Williams said.
Although the language barrier was the biggest obstacle in teaching the ANA soldiers about artillery, they are beginning to understand the concepts, Knighten said.
For most classes, the U.S. Army Soldiers made sure an interpreter attended who had a basic grasp of artillery.
When there was no interpreter available, they used translations. The U.S. Army Soldiers begin to pick up the language and vice versa, Knighten said.
“It makes me a better person to understand their language,” Knighten said. “They help me with their language, and I help them with mine. We meet in the middle.”
One ANA soldier, Sgt. Sayed Ahmad, said he bettered his understanding of artillery by the end of class.
“We need to learn this so in the coming time when coalition forces are no longer here, we will be ready for every place and every job,” Ahmad said. “This way we can fight the enemy, and we can defend our country.”
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