Trainers in Afghanistan Work to Develop NCOs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 — Lead­ers in Afghanistan are work­ing with the country’s secu­ri­ty forces and NATO train­ers and advi­sors to devel­op non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers.

“There is noth­ing more impor­tant to the pro­fes­sion­al­iza­tion of the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty force than the devel­op­ment of its lead­ers,” Army Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Ralph R. Beam of NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan and Com­bined Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Com­mand Afghanistan, said dur­ing an Oct. 21 “DOD Live” blog­gers round­table.

Beam said that the devel­op­ment and growth of the secu­ri­ty force will ensure advances will be sus­tain­able and endur­ing. One of the biggest chal­lenges, he said, is per­son­nel man­age­ment and the abil­i­ty to sus­tain a pro­fes­sion­al corps of skilled and qual­i­fied NCOs.

“Devel­op­ing NCOs is a time-con­sum­ing, inten­sive process that requires edu­ca­tion, skilled Afghan and coali­tion train­ers, leader devel­op­ment and oper­a­tional expe­ri­ence,” he said.

Poor­ly trained NCOs have a direct impact on mis­sion accom­plish­ment and effec­tive­ness of the force, and in the end, it impacts on morale, wel­fare, and the con­fi­dence of sub­or­di­nates.”

The train­ing begins with a four-week team leader course after basic train­ing. The next lev­el is the One Uni­form Course, which fast-tracks Afghans from civil­ian to the equiv­a­lent of a U.S. Army staff sergeant in a 12-week block of train­ing. Beam said first sergeant and sergeant major cours­es also are avail­able, and that at any giv­en time 4,000 Afghan NCOs are in train­ing.

Still, the secu­ri­ty force has a short­fall of about 12,000 NCOs, Beam said, based on train­ing capac­i­ty, reten­tion and sol­diers being wound­ed or killed in action.

“We project — based on what we recruit, and based on what we are able to put through and train — that by Octo­ber 2011, he short­age will prob­a­bly be down to about 7,300,” he said. One of the major fac­tors in the short­age, he said, is lit­er­a­cy. The Afghans placed a lit­er­a­cy require­ment on cer­tain cours­es, he explained, and that’s pre­vent­ing some peo­ple from being able to take them.

He added that one of the biggest suc­cess­es with the train­ing pro­gram is that most of it is Afghan-led.

“You do have NATO instruc­tors there,” he said. “But, in most cas­es on the NCO side of it, it’s Afghans in the lead, and they’re doing pret­ty well at it.”

Beam said he is opti­mistic that the Afghan forces and the NATO train­ing mis­sion will achieve their shared vision for the future, hav­ing Afghanistan secured by trained Afghan lead­ers.

“We have to train our way out of the con­flict,” he said. “That’s what we’re try­ing to do right now, and I think we’re doing pret­ty good at it.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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