USMC Training for Afghan Army

A major aspect of the “surge” is training the Afghan recruits who will provide security for their own country.  The USMC as the front end of the surge plays an important role in this effort.

The photo show illustrates the activity of USMC trainers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and their Afghan trainees seen on January 5, 2010.  The training facility is in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

“The purpose of this training is to let them become familiar with their weapons,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Vallejo Jr., a platoon sergeant with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and the senior training advisor for the company’s Afghan National Army soldiers. “During their boot camp they only fired their rifles once. They haven’t done training like this. We’ll be teaching them our tactics and procedures and hold them to the same standards that we hold Marines to.”

Over the course of the next week the soldiers will begin to train with their Marine counterparts at the platoon level, but time is an obstacle that hangs over their heads each day, explained Vallejo, who worked with Afghan national security forces on his previous deployment.

“It hit home yesterday,” said Vallejo, “Marines have two months of weapons handling before they ever fire their weapons. These guys have had six days since they got their rifles. It’s a slow and tedious process, but they are learning.”

Beyond teaching the basics of marksmanship and small unit tactics, the training served another purpose. The Afghan Army NCOs worked with their Marine counterparts during the training in order to develop skills as small unit leaders.

“Having the Afghan army sergeants out here being safety officers and overseeing the range makes a large difference,” Vallejo said. “We’ve seen them stepping up, correcting themselves. The enlisted side is getting there. We’re all looking forward to integrating them during training and operations, so they can see how our NCOs work with junior Marines.”

  • The first photo shows an Afghan National Army soldier firing his weapon during a combat marksmanship range in Helmand province.
  • The second photo shows Sgt. Aziz Ullah, an Afghan National Army soldier firing his weapon during a combat marksmanship course.
  • The third photo shows Marine giving instruction to an Afghan National Army soldier.
  • The fourth photo shows an Afghan National Army soldier running through a squad attack course while a Marine follows behind during training.
  • The fifth photo shows Afghan National Army soldiers rehearsing fire team attacks during training in Helmand province, January 6, 2010.
  • The sixth photo shows an Afghan National Army soldier firing a rocket propelled grenade during training in, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 6.
  • And the final photo shows Afghan National Army soldiers falling into formation in front of a Marine for a safety brief before beginning a range in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 5.

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***Posted January 16th, 2010

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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