British forces mentor the next Afghan military leaders

At the Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­tre (KMTC), the first stop for recruits to the Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA), British forces are men­tor­ing the Afghan instruc­tors who are now doing the teach­ing.

Afghan National Army soldiers taking part in a fire and manoeuvre exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre
Afghan Nation­al Army sol­diers tak­ing part in a fire and manoeu­vre exer­cise at the Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­tre
Source: Cor­po­ral Bar­ry Lloyd RLC, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The KMTC is where Afghan sol­diers receive their basic train­ing on enlist­ment. The train­ing itself is run by ANA instruc­tors under the advise­ment and men­tor­ing of ISAF forces. 

The British-run Non-Com­mis­sioned Offi­cer (NCO) Train­ing Team, or ‘Brid­mal’ Team in Dari, and the Offi­cer Can­di­date School (OCS) are part of the KMTC force. 

Cap­tain Stu Rut­ledge, Roy­al Logis­tic Corps, explained the changes at the centre: 

“The lessons here are all taught by Afghan instruc­tors. Twelve months ago we were teach­ing our­selves, then we moved into a men­tor­ing role and just recent­ly we have stepped back into an advi­so­ry role as the Afghan instruc­tors here are get­ting more and more capa­ble for themselves.” 

The NCO Train­ing Team takes select­ed ANA sol­diers and runs them through a 12-week junior lead­ers mil­i­tary course. Based on the prin­ci­ples of sim­i­lar train­ing in the British Army, the ‘one uni­form’ course as it is known is designed and men­tored by expe­ri­enced British non-com­mis­sioned offi­cers who are able to pass on their wealth of expe­ri­ence to the bud­ding ANA junior leaders. 

Poten­tial ANA sol­diers are select­ed to attend the course after obtain­ing a basic numer­a­cy and lit­er­a­cy standard. 

War­rant Offi­cer Class 2 Stan Nils­son, 1st Bat­tal­ion Irish Guards, explained further: 

“We don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly train, we men­tor the instruc­tors that are high­ly qual­i­fied with­in the ANA. We men­tor how they do busi­ness in regards to bat­tle lessons and teach­ing indoor class­room lessons. We enhance their skills throughout.” 

Sol­diers on the ‘one uni­form’ course do a com­bi­na­tion of Phase One train­ing such as basic fire and manoeu­vre, mil­i­tary skills, map read­ing and sen­try duties, but also lead­er­ship and com­mand training. 

Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Muhibul­lah, one of the ANA instruc­tors, said: 

“We teach dif­fer­ent things to the sol­diers; how to con­trol them­selves, how to train their sol­diers and dif­fer­ent types of patrolling — ambush­es, planned attacks, team attacks, pair attacks and com­pa­ny attacks. 

“First of all we take them to the class­room to do the the­o­ry, then the demo, then after the demo we let the sol­diers do practicals.” 

Each ‘one uni­form’ course con­sists of 150 stu­dents, but with fur­ther train­ing out­posts across Afghanistan run­ning the course some 600–800 stu­dents can be under­go­ing train­ing at any one time. 

The British men­tors are not just focused on NCOs, but also on select­ing those sol­diers who have the poten­tial to become ANA offi­cers. Much as British Army offi­cers go through a rig­or­ous selec­tion and train­ing process, poten­tial Afghan offi­cer can­di­dates are put through a 20-week com­mis­sion­ing course at the KMTC as part of the offi­cer selec­tion course. 

The pack­age is designed to teach can­di­dates basic mil­i­tary skills, but also lead­er­ship, com­mand and man-man­age­ment capabilities. 

Cap­tain Rut­ledge explained the OCS course: 

“Through­out the 20 weeks there are var­i­ous pack­ages. They go through field­craft lessons, range work, lead­er­ship lessons, there’s a phys­i­cal ele­ment, and then sim­ple skills such as map read­ing and first aid. 

“We run train-the-train­er pack­ages, where dif­fer­ent sub­jects will take poten­tial instruc­tors, bring them aside for a week-long course where we’ll teach them how to do the lessons, the basics of the struc­ture of the les­son, and how to teach oth­er people.” 

The process at the KMTC seems to be work­ing, as Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Muhibul­lah commented: 

“My men­tors have been British. I real­ly appre­ci­ate them, they work very hard, they are sen­si­tive in their train­ing, they give ideas, and their ideas are very use­ful for us.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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