July 19, 2012
By Master Sgt. Grady Fontana, 1st Marine Division
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — After more than 10 years of war in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Security Forces have gained a certain proficiency in war fighting unlike any they have ever experienced in past years. As they’ve developed their tactics, techniques and procedures in counterinsurgency operations while fighting alongside U.S. Forces, they’ve earned the respect of their people and have gained experience on the Afghan battlefield.
However, while developing the ANSF into a professional fighting force, they’ve also shifted some of the developmental focus on the combat arms support functions such as logistics, communications and administration. As the ANSF progresses through the maturation process, they’ve acknowledged the need to get better in terms of supporting roles within military units.
Aboard Camp Leatherneck sits the Joint Sustainment Academy Southwest, a schoolhouse for the ANSF. The instructors are sourced from International Security Assistance Force personnel and ANSF and their focus is on training the Afghans to train other Afghans. They instructs on leadership development, basic and advance weapons and combat training, policing skills, and vocational training.
In a small meeting room, the JSAS staff hosted a small graduation ceremony here July 17. Nineteen members of the ANSF just completed a two-week administration course that taught the students the basic functions of a military administration and personnel section.
“It was the Captain’s Basic Administrative Course, which covered administration procedures, casualty procedures, manpower tracking, and absence-without-leave processing,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Juan F. Velasquez, administrative chief, Regional Command (Southwest).
The class was comprised of students from the Afghan Border Police, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Civil Order Police, while the instructors were sourced from 1st Marine Division (Fwd), 1st Marine Logistics Group (Fwd), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd), according to Velasquez, who was the chief instructor for the course and a native of Lubbock, Texas.
This iteration of the administrative course was the second this year. Combined, the JSAS has trained about 50 students this year in administrative procedures. The curriculum was created by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and approved by the Afghanistan Minister of Defense.
The class was delivered over the course of eight training days and covered a wide range of topics, but the main goal, according to Velasquez, was that the students gain confidence in the knowledge they’ve learned, and they return to their units and implement procedures that will contribute to their command’s overall success.
“This course really increased our level of knowledge about administration,” said 1st Sgt. Khserwbic, through an interpreter. Khserwbic is a logistician with Zone 6 of the Afghan Border Police. “I was quite unsure about the functions of the (military administration section), but now I have a basic idea and what each section does in the unit and how they tie in to other sections.”
The administration course is a one-of-a-kind in Afghanistan and some students travelled a great distance to attend the course. Khserwbic is from the northern region of Badakhshan, about 700 miles north of here and a two-day drive.
According to Khserwbic, he didn’t know much about administration, since he is a logistician; however, he has now has a greater understanding of administrative procedures, which he can use to assist fellow members of his unit.
Afghan National Army Staff Sgt. Atiqullah Amir, a communicator who now works in the operations section of Kandak 5, 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps, said he had little experience with administration procedures so this class was very helpful for him.
“The biggest thing I learned was the rules and regulations regarding (absence without leave),” said Amir, through an interpreter. “I learned the legal rights of personnel and the rules when returning from AWOL.”
Although the class was considered an advance course for administrators, the basic composition of the class proved to be challenging to the instructors. The rank structure and experience level ranged from officers to junior enlisted. In addition, the literacy level varied greatly.
“Aside from the language differences, I had to tailor my delivery with cultural sensitivities in mind,” said Staff Sgt. John R. Purcell, manpower operations chief, 1st MarDiv (Fwd), and an instructor for the administrative course. “I had to tailor my class so that it was delivered in terms they could understand.”
Purcell, a native of Alpena, Mich., understood that some students were more receptive than others but he also understood how it was important that all students understood the importance of the class.
“The more they understand administrative procedures and how it all ties in together with the other sections and the other services, the better off they’ll be when they assume all responsibilities on the battlefield,” said Purcell.