Afghan soldiers one step closer to professionalization
Regional Command Southwest
Story by Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr
CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan (Jan. 7, 2013) - Afghan National Army soldiers completed Helmand province’s first Afghan Inform and Influence Methods course on Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Jan. 3.
The course helps promote the people skills of the soldiers, stressing the importance of dealing with the people of Afghanistan with dignity and respect, bringing the soldiers one step closer in professionalization.
“A lot of work went into this,” said Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Miller, noncommissioned officer in charge of the AIIM course. “We were given the idea and looked around. We pulled a little bit from the course that is taught to the commandos and we went and talked to the Afghans and our highers and kind of combined the two.”
After some deliberation and several planning meetings, the course material was chosen. Afghan soldiers were instructed by soldiers with the Regional Psychological Operations Support Element for Regional Command Southwest.
The five-day course consisted of several classroom periods and then culminated with the soldiers being put to the test on their newly enhanced skills.
“The whole goal of this is to help the Afghans in engaging the public,” said Army Sgt. Neil Jones, psychological operations specialist and AIIM instructor. “What this class is doing is helping them to learn to engage, build relationships, gain atmospherics and being able to then use that and turn into an opportunity to message.”
The Afghan soldiers, most of whom held a religious cultural affairs job title, all took turns in small groups going through each of the scenario-based events.
Each scenario played on things the soldiers would see in a normal Afghan village, from an outraged farmer annoyed with the soldiers and the government, to talking with a level-headed village elder or religious leader.
During the training evolution, senior members of ANA were in attendance gauging the effectiveness of the training and their soldiers.
“This is the first time we were able to come out of the classroom and teach in the field,” said Miller. “It’s all about them being able to build those relationships. They will be able to successfully message what their successes are and get the population to understand how the ANA are helping to create success and stabilize the country.”
Through courses like these, those skills can be honed and put into action by the ANA, something they understand the importance.
“This course is a good one. Soldiers need more of this type of training,” said Sgt. Mohammad Nadi, an ANA soldier attending the course. “We need the education, and we need to educate our soldiers.”
As the drawdown of coalition forces continues, the Afghan government takes more and more steps toward independence. The Afghan Inform and Influence Methods course is another tool for them to aid in this growing state of independence.
Afghan National Army Sergeant Mohammad Nadi, left, speaks with village elders during Helmand province’s first Afghan Inform and Influence Methods course on Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Jan. 3, 2013. Nadi was one of many ANA soldiers who went through the training that day.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Miller speaks with role players during Helmand province’s first Afghan Inform and Influence Methods course on Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Jan. 3, 2013. Miller, a psychological operations specialist, was one of many soldiers who instructed the course to a group of Afghan National Army soldiers.