Frankreich / USA / Afghanistan

U.S., French Sol­diers Train Afghan Artillery­men

The class, which grad­u­at­ed May 5, was the first of the year, with more sched­uled for the near future, offi­cials said.

A for­ward observ­er is a sol­dier respon­si­ble for call­ing for fire, serv­ing as the eyes for indi­rect-fire assets. Dur­ing the train­ing, Afghan, French and U.S. for­ward observers worked togeth­er to instruct, train and learn from each oth­er.

A French oper­a­tional men­tor liai­son team trained with the Afghan artillery on how to call for fire, per­form com­bat patrols and con­duct check­points.

“We’re just adding to their pro­gram,” said U.S. Army Mas­ter Sgt. David C. Rogers, a mas­ter gun­ner with 4th Bat­tal­ion, 25th Field Artillery Reg­i­ment. “We’re part­ner­ing in a dif­fer­ent way than the French, being that we have a dif­fer­ent how­itzer to use.”

With help from the 4–25th, the Afghan army’s can­noneers were able to learn more about field artillery, since the U.S. Army uses more advanced equip­ment, such as the M777 How­itzer.

“It was very use­ful to work with the oth­er armies,” said Lt. Sayed Hamed, a field artillery offi­cer with the Afghan army’s 4th Bat­tal­ion. “It was very good train­ing, and we learned a lot of new things.”

Call­ing for fire was some­thing the Afghan observers weren’t accus­tomed to doing, Rogers said.

“We had the [for­ward observers] call­ing back to their can­nons for the first time,” Rogers said. “They are used to shoot­ing direct fire instead of indi­rect fire.”

The part­ner­ship first was estab­lished between U.S. and Afghan forces four months ago when the Afghans came to vis­it FOB Air­borne. It didn’t take long for the sol­diers from the two coun­tries to become friends.

“With­in 15 min­utes, they were split up into var­i­ous groups, laugh­ing, look­ing through the sights and talk­ing about the ammu­ni­tion with each oth­er, with­out know­ing what the oth­er one was say­ing,” Rogers said with a chuck­le.

The train­ers were for­tu­nate to have a class that was well edu­cat­ed, Rogers said, adding that while a group of five might seem insignif­i­cant, their abil­i­ty to share their new-found knowl­edge is expect­ed to have a sig­nif­i­cant impact for the Afghan army as a whole.

“We learned a lot,” Hamed said. “The things we learned here we can use to teach to our units.”

Help­ing the Afghan sol­diers makes his mis­sion all the more worth­while, Rogers said.

“Know­ing the Afghans will take this train­ing and even­tu­al­ly be able to man­age on their own as a coun­try has been the most reward­ing part of this train­ing,” he said.

(Army Spc. Matthew Thomp­son serves with the 5th Mobile Pub­lic Affairs Detach­ment.)