I don’t know if the winter is over, but it seems like everyone is taking advantage of the warmer weather. ANA land seems to be bursting at the seams with new recruits being trained to become ANA soldiers. Today I took some pictures of them conducting push-ups. Most of these recruits didn’t know what a push-up was until they enlisted in the Afghan national Army. It’s a bit humorous to see the various styles of them practicing this exercise. Notice in the picture how many soldiers aren’t keeping their back straight, while others are doing dips, and some of them just gave up. It will only be a matter of time before they are able to pump out 50 extensions the proper way. These recruits start their calisthenics early in the morning and finish with a late evening run. I hear their war whoops every day.
The ANA weren’t the only ones who were training. The ANA camp hosted the Commander’s Cup competition for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) out of FOB Shank. These companies were having a friendly contest. Each team consisted of 2 ANA soldiers and 3 US soldiers, which included one female on each
squad. The schedule of events would test their physical, mental and training skills. More importantly, this was a chance to show the joint partnership with the ANA soldiers. I decided to follow them around with my camera and observe the events. The only difference, they would wear all of their protective gear and I would not.
After everyone received detailed instructions, the first team lined up by the timekeeper’s table. My ANA Sergeant Major was there and he was barking at his troops in his loud boisterous voice. The first event was a simulated fire fight and they would have to run to a designated location and then provide first aid to a wounded teammate. After diagnosing and
treating the wound, the victim was then strapped to a litter. The team would have to carry their teammate and litter for two hundred yards where they would get their next set of instructions. The teams were already breathing hard from the litter carry, but they would have to reserve their energy because now they would climb the steep curvy hill leading up to the former Russian Officer Club. This is no easy feat without heavy gear.
My interpreter Omid and I went up the hill ahead of the teams so we could take pictures. My cross-training on the treadmill is paying off and I kept a fast steady pace. Omid being 23 years younger would jog ahead of me and
then rest. “Walking was too hard,” he said. Notice the steepness of the incline in the picture. One of the ANA soldiers told Omid, “The Americans are too slow and we should run up the hill.” But if you notice, he is not wearing any of the 40 lb protective gear.
At the top of the hill, the teams were given a black plastic box of disassembled weapons parts. Included in the disassemblies were an AK-47 rifle, M-4 rifle, M-240 and M-249 machine gun, and an M-9 pistol. The ANA were lightning fast at assembling their
Soviet-made AK-47 rifles while some of the soldiers struggled to assemble their weapons. Some of the visiting Army personnel were chiding the Air Force, so I made a point to defend my service. I explained that as an ETT member, we go outside the wire a lot and when people inquire where the Army personnel are, I enlighten them that the Army stays at
the FOB and changes the oil on our vehicles, guards the compound, runs the garrison and creates a ton of unnecessary paperwork. I also saw an opportunity to rub in the fact that most Air Force personnel are not accustomed to Army weapons, gear, training, etc., yet an Air Force team still holds the record for the fastest time and greatest number of
points achieved at Fort Riley for MITT and ETT teams. This boasting quieted their jesting in a hurry.
While at the top of the Russian O-club hill, a company of ANA recruits was running up the hill. Not all of them ran the entire distance. The further they climbed the hill, the more spread out they become. One of the ANA recruits was in a festive mood, because after reaching the top and where the ground levels out, he started skipping the next 1/8th of a mile. To be cont’d ……
Filed under: Mentoring ANA | Tagged: 173rd Airborne Brigade Support Battalion, Afghan National Army, AK-47 rifle, ANA, Deployment, ETT, FOB Shank, M-240 and M-249 machine gun, M-4 rifle, M-9 pistol, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, war | 1 Comment »