KANDAHAR — Our soldiers in Afghanistan are undergoing a transition. They’re shifting from combat operations to a training mission and for one group of soldiers teaching is about being there for their Afghans as much as it’s about showing them how to fight.
“We’re not always going to be here and they’re going to need to defend for themselves. So our job is to get them to this comfort level — that way they know what they’re doing. When we’re not here, they’ll be able to do their jobs,” says Pfc. Robert Mejia with the U.S. Army.
Training for the Afghan National Army continues even as violence rocks the southern Kandahar Province yet again. The blast late Monday killed four Afghan civilians, including two women.
For soldiers with the 82nd Field Artillery, out of Fort Hood, the ongoing violence highlights how desperately they need to succeed in their training mission.
“To build the relationship with ANA, we have to be out there with them doing the things that they’re doing and meeting with them every day and showing them that we care about what it is that they’re trying to do and that we’re here to help them and stand by them through whatever training task they are asked to do,” says Capt. William Kern with the U.S. Army.
Of course the 82nd specializes in field artillery, but for them to be successful they’ve had to adopt another specialization: compassion.
According to Afghan army members the 82nd is doing a good job.
First Sgt. Wazir Enaam of the Afghan National Army says, “The training was very good and so effective. Now we have education and training from their counterparts in the Americans. It’s going to be a great success for the ANA.”
But there are still many successes yet to be had. Still, there is so much more time before that 2014 deadline when our troops come home.
Members of the 82nd said they believe the Afghan army will be ready to stand on their own by the 2014 deadline.
Ian Parker for Freedom 43 TV.