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Marines help develop Afghan security force discipline

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. Zachary Nola, Regimental Combat Team 7

The shooter, one of many Afghans who have joined the Afghan national security forces, prepares himself as he’s been taught. He bends at the knees, torso square to his target, elbows squeezed tight against his body. The grimace on his face shows discomfort, a sign he’s positioning himself correctly. He isn’t supposed to feel comfortable.

The command comes from the line.


The shooter squeezes off two shots in the direction of the green silhouette down range. The command comes again and two more shots ring out. The process continues two more times.

When the shooter approaches his target the disappointment is clear and he mumbles to himself. The shots are low and did not strike within the circle, which represents a potentially fatal wound. The comrade next to him points at his own target where the shots are also low but near or within the circle’s circumference.

The accuracy of the shooter’s comrade only frustrates the shooter more.

When one of his instructors, Sgt. Tyler Brown, approaches the shooter’s target, he’s silent, but when he addresses the shooter he points out the shooter’s shots are low, but in a tight group.

Brown explains the shooter is already improving from minutes earlier, when his shots merely peppered his target, and with a little work, the tight group can be raised so the shooter hits his intended target dead center.

“The majority of them have progressed very well,” said 1st Lt. Christopher M. Doty, a platoon commander with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and liaison to the ANSF. “They’ve gone from not being able to do anything in the prone position to being able to shoot controlled pairs within a diameter of 10 inches.”

For weeks Marines like Doty and Brown, from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, have partnered with ANSF members to help educate Afghan troops on basic combat marksmanship fundamentals.

“Since we are working alongside [the Afghan national security forces] they have to be as effective at engaging a target as we do,” said the 25-year-old Brown. “They’re training should be valued just as much as any Marine’s or soldier’s [training] in Afghanistan.”

ANSF soldiers are taught zeroing techniques, work on engaging targets at increasing distances, practice shooting hammered pairs, and conduct failure-to-stop drills.

While the communication barrier and learning techniques make the marksmanship program here a sometimes slow and frustrating process the Marines have not been deterred and use the course not only to instruct on shooting but to teach professional soldiery.

“The whole idea of the marksmanship program was to increase the proficiency of the Afghan soldiers,” said Doty a native of Longwood, Fla. “Marksmanship ties into being an infantryman. So it ties into how you conduct yourself, what your appearance is, how you look on patrol and how the [Afghan] people view their soldiers.”

One of the key things Doty and others focus on when teaching professionalism, is teaching the ANSF non-commissioned officers how to act, obedience to orders and other basic military disciplines.

“[Marksmanship] ties into how you wear your gear, weapons maintenance and gear maintenance, and that all ties into discipline,” Doty said.

The Marines have already seen such discipline in ANSF members with whom they are currently working.

“They’re maintaining their weapons, their maintaining their gear and their fundamentals of marksmanship,” said Brown from Lebanon, Mo.

Although being able to accurately engage a target is important, the affect of ANSF members engaging in professional soldiery may prove more significant in securing the Now Zad area.

“I would say the discipline is more important than their marksmanship ability,” said 25-year-old Doty. “If they can shoot someone from 300 meters away, awesome, however if they aren’t disciplined and treat the citizens here with less respect then they deserve that’s going to lead to secondary and tertiary affects which will be negative.”

With ANSF members acting as more than just foot soldiers but as representatives of the Afghan government, the need for discipline and professionalism is extremely vital to the country’s stability.

“[The Afghan people] see the [Afghan National Police] and [Afghan National Army] as instruments of the government of Afghanistan,” said Doty.

“So I always tell [the ANSF] the way the public perceives you is how they are going to start respecting the government.”

Amongst the ANSF, bearing of the country’s flag over vehicles and command posts is a common sight, however the banner is seldom seen flying over homes in the Now Zad area.

As 3/4 continues to build professionalism amongst the ANSF, it is hoped the flag will soon represent not just ANSF proficiency but the proficiency of the government.
Until then, Marines like Doty and Brown, and ANSF members, will continue their efforts to improve the Now Zad area one shot at a time.

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