A shortage of NATO trainers is complicating efforts to expedite the instruction of Afghan troops about the top threat they will face after international forces leave in 2014 — roadside bombs.
“This is something that they’re crying out for more of,” Canadian armyMaj. Gen. Jim Ferron, deputy commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, said in a phone interview with The Washington Times.
Homemade bombs have been the No. 1 killer of NATO troops in Afghanistan for some time, and they have become the top killer of Afghan soldiers and police as they gradually take the lead in their country’s security.
Locating, disarming and disassembling the bombs is a specialized capability that few troops have mastered. Still, NATO considers imparting that expertise to Afghan security forces a high priority, though there are “not enough” trainers, Gen. Ferron said.
“It’s always a tragedy when a soldier is injured or killed with one of these, but it’s absolutely heartbreaking when a child here in Afghanistan is subjected to the effects of war, so that’s why I say ‘not enough’ people,” he added.
However, “Our focus right now is not bringing more American experts or more NATO coalition force experts into Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the training mission will focus on training Afghan troops who then can train their comrades.
“Our efforts now are on training the trainers because we are at the [command] of many of our governments. We are in a transition period,” Gen. Ferron said.
With help from private contractors, NATO instructors are planning to train Afghan troops at the “kandak” level, the Afghan unit equivalent to a battalion of 500 troops, he said. The hope is that those kandak-level troops subsequently train other soldiers in smaller units.
“I think it would be safe to say that we have enough to train the Afghans at that level,” Gen. Ferron said.
Instruction in recognizing roadside bombs now is included in the nine-week basic training of Afghan security forces.
NATO trainers provide more-advanced instruction in countering homemade bombs in a 30-day course that teaches Afghan troops how to remove and disarm simple explosive devices.
Qualified Afghan troops seeking to become bomb-disposal technicians undergo six months of in-depth training. Graduates of the course are paired with NATO bomb-disposal technicians, who evaluate their expertise in the field. Those who pass the evaluation then become leaders of bomb-disposal teams.
Because of operational security concerns, the actual number of Afghan soldiers and police officers who have undergone the training could not be released, a NATO spokesman said.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Kristina Wong is a national security reporter for The Washington Times, covering defense, foreign policy and intelligence affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
In a world that is increasingly complex, we need to seek greater awareness of the blending of cultures and America's changing role in a global community.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Libertarian thought beyond politics, unrestrained by convention.
Empowering mind/body/spirit and health dialogue along with cutting-edge, conscious social, political, and world commentary with Adam Omkara. Join the Evolution!
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc