FORWARD OPERATING BASE Lightning, Afghanistan - The U.S. Army's premier trainers of the Joint Readiness Training Center have deployed outside of the United States from their home station of Fort Polk, La., for the first time to train another nation's forces.
Every U.S. Army unit that deploys to Afghanistan or Iraq goes through the same training and now Afghan National Army and Coalition commanders acknowledge that the ANA 203rd Corps is ready for this next level of training.
"This is a tremendous recognition of the present capabilities and the potential of a premier team within the Afghan National Security Force; this investment in their development is an investment towards long-term security for Afghanistan," said Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander, 4th Brigade Combat Team, and 82nd Airborne Division. "The 203rd Corps staff is in the lead here, planning and executing the last four major operations conducted in south eastern Afghanistan since late summer 2007. If they weren't ready for this next step in their development, we wouldn't have asked for this."
The 203rd Corps completed an intensive five-day command post exercise with staff from the JRTC and their Coalition partners of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne in south eastern Afghanistan to train and develop the skills of their staff officers and senior noncommissioned officers, Jan. 26. This exercise included the subordinate ANA staff throughout eastern Afghanistan allowing the JRTC trainers to observe and mentor ANA staff at all levels.
Although no ground troops were involved, the participants in the exercise used maps and computers to position units and soldiers in order to attack the enemy and respond to an unexpected natural disaster on a computer-simulated battlefield. While the exercise included planning and executing a full-scale operation and covered routine battle drills, the trainers threw in some surprises so the ANA staff had to quickly react and work through unexpected situations, the same as in an actual operation.
Major General Abdul Khaliq, 203rd Corps commander, ANA, was pleased with the exercise.
"This command post exercise training event, conducted with the United States Army Joint Readiness Training Center is the latest exercise to assess and improve the quality of the ANA corps staff and the ANP," he said. "In 2007, we executed independent operations, and we are currently planning independent operations for 2008. I am grateful for the progress and increasing capabilities of the security forces of Afghanistan. I appreciate all efforts in improving Afghanistan, and the ANA, [Afghan National Police], and Afghan nation appreciate the support of the U.S. forces."
All the participants in this training event recognized the value in sending the JRTC staff to Afghanistan.
"JRTC is designed to train and improve the Soldiers and leaders of the U.S. Army. Bringing our staff to Afghanistan provides another step forward towards improving the capabilities and self-sufficiency of the Afghan National Security Forces and developing the future leaders of the ANA," said Maj. Robert Phillips, Public Affairs officer, Joint Readiness Training Center.