The Afghan National Army (ANA) Artillery Training School in Kabul has reached an important milestone with its first graduates joining Afghan and ISAF combat elements in Kandahar Province.
Commanding Officer of the International Artillery Training Team – Kabul (ATT-K), Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Kane Mangin said that the school’s first intake had been a success.
“This is an important month for the school because our first group of graduates has been formed into the first of the newest batteries of the ANA artillery,” LTCOL Mangin said.
“The graduates deployed to Kandahar in early April and with a bit of extra training they will be into the fight later this year.”
The school, mentored by the Australian led ATT-K, prepares Afghan soldiers to become skilled artillerymen and is an important step towards Afghan security forces taking full responsibility for security in the coming years.
“The ATT-K comprises six member nations and our collective task is to implement and develop the school of artillery for the ANA,” LTCOL Mangin said.
“Our mission is to spread the capability of the ANA Artillery Branch across Afghanistan.”
Australia currently has 20 artillery trainers mentoring Afghan instructors at the school, which officially opened in October 2010.
Although training includes live firing of the ANA’s D-30 Howitzer guns and rigorous gun drills, an important aspect of the school curriculum is to teach basic literacy and numeracy skills.
The national literacy rate in Afghanistan is around 28% but for recruits it is only 14%. Therefore, these skills are key to professionalising the Afghan National Security Forces, and are highly valued by the students.
The ANA Artillery Training School was the first military school in Afghanistan to develop and run a literacy program for its students.
“Most of the soldiers we receive come straight off the street and cannot read or write,” LTCOL Mangin said.
“Artillery is a technical trade requiring literacy and numeracy skills so we implemented a literacy program which gives our trainees basic fundamentals to do the job.”
At any one time, the school typically has 440 students attending one of nine different courses.
The goal for the school is to provide artillery training to approximately 2100 officers and soldiers over the next twelve months, which translates to approximately 23 artillery batteries for the ANA.
The creation of these newest batteries indicates progress is being made and the future for the ANA Artillery branch is looking positive.”
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