Airmen help Afghan National Army Air Corps soldiers take aim
By Tech. Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson, U.S. Air Forces Central combat camera team
/ Published January 05, 2010
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Airmen of the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group here are training 30 Afghanistan National Army Air Corps soldiers on the M-240B rifle in January here.
For some of the ANAAC soldiers it was their first time shooting the gas-powered machine gun while for others it was their second, but the Airmen mentors noticed improvement in their abilities.
"Very good. That is how you are supposed to shoot," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Conley, a 738th AEAG security forces adviser as the ANAAC soldiers practiced firing their weapons throughout the 205th Corps Firing Range here Jan. 4.
"The guys did great today," said Capt. Shane Cordrey, the 738th AEAG lead security forces adviser. "When we first trained on these weapons some of these guys were not only missing the target but shooting out of the range completely. Today, as mentors we can tell that they have not only improved their shooting skill, but have also passed on their knowledge to their fellow ANAAC soldiers."
For the past two years security forces Airmen have mentored ANAAC soldiers in everything from quick response forces, clearing buildings, providing overwatch protection, foot patrols and weapons training.
"This training is vital to helping the Afghans take full control over their own security and work ourselves out of a job," said Sergeant Conley, who is deployed from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and a native of Washington, Ind. "These guys are very eager students and training them is one of the most fulfilling things I've done in my career."
For ANAAC soldiers on this day, training consisted of M-240B weapons safety, learning to assemble and disassemble the weapons system, how to fire and load it properly and how to clean the weapon.
"It was awesome," said Sergeant Qobat, an ANAAC security forces NCO. "I feel this training will help me do my job and allow me to defend my country alongside my mentors. Without our mentors teaching us to do things like this, it would be very difficult to defend ourselves."
After 11.5 months of being a mentor in Afghanistan, Captain Cordrey, a native of Crestline, Ohio, has seen the many benefits of passing his security forces knowledge on to his Afghan counterparts. During his time he has watched the ANAAC security forces grow from 15 to about 150 strong.
"I have had the opportunity to watch these guys make huge strides toward taking over security for their own air force, a step that will enhance the overall security for their nation," said Captain Cordrey, who is deployed from Indiana State University where he is an ROTC instructor. "I am not only proud of the mentorship I have been able to provide, but also the friendships I've made while learning and sharing in their culture."
While procuring weapons and providing training is the current priority for 738th AEAG Airmen, getting aircraft will be the next step in making the ANAAC a fully functioning air corps.
"We are truly thankful for our mentors," said Shiraf Zal, the ANAAC security forces deputy commander. "They are providing a path for our country's future, we are learning how to be good soldiers, good leading and mostly we are learning how to take care of ourselves."