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ANA demonstrate excellence, graduate mortar training

January 6, 2013

By 1st Lt. Bryan Spear, 3-320th FA Unit Public Affairs Representative , Sgt. 1st Class Abram J Pinnington (101st Airborne)

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 6, 2013) - As each day passes, the Afghan National Army is adding to its capabilities. This progress is significant in building a security force that can provide stability for its people and future.

The development is becoming increasingly evident at Camp Parsa, Afghanistan. The modern training facility of the ANA is an example of the ever-growing force they're becoming.

Afghans from the 4th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 203rd Corps, completed a two-week mortar course at the Fires Center of Excellence, or FCOE, a school developed and mentored by Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team 'Rakkasans,' 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The course is designed to teach sustainable practices and methods that will allow them to engage the enemy with confidence.

'The programs in place are the building blocks to grow,' said Master Sgt. Robert S. Mills, the mortar senior advisor, Headquarters Battery, 3-320th FA. 'The mortar crews conducted related tasks and training to enhance their indirect fire capabilities.'

The mortar teams were given an immense amount of knowledge to process within the vigorous course.

'The cadre taught techniques on how to best utilize their mortar systems,' said Mills. 'Tasks included tactical employment, emplacement techniques, deflections, pre-combat checks and inspections, charge versus range and maintenance.'

Once they have completed the required training, the trainees must exhibit their abilities to successfully employ and utilize their weapon system.

'This training culminates at the end of the two-week course,' said Mills. 'They have to conduct occupation and an live-fire exercise while completing every task taught during the course.'

Especially important to their curriculum, mentors focused efforts on equipment specific training.

'The crews learned techniques that are sustainable within the realms of their current equipment,' said Mills. 'They will have to use this equipment in the units they serve. The training enables them to take on the enemy with confidence in their equipment.

For the newly established FCOE, this is the second class of mortar teams to successfully graduate. Each class has developed 12 mortarmen from two separate kandaks.

Already, the initial classes have given a strong impression of the ANA to the instructors.

'Although there were challenges, the ANA mortarmen adapted quickly to the training and tasks of the class,' said Mills. 'We look forward to working with more soldiers of the ANA.'

In addition to churning out mortarmen to assist the fight against insurgency, the FCOE is planning the next step in their mentoring.

'We are in the process of developing instructor counter-parts,' said Mills. 'Eventually, they will take over our positions and take over as the primary instructors.'

With the reinforcement of specialty trained soldiers being added to the ranks of the ANA, they're also fortifying their confidence to combat the plague of insurgency.

When the trainees completed their firing demonstration, they were awarded certificates signifying their completion. They also received recognition from ANA Brig. Gen. Mohammad Naseer Hedayt, Commander, 1st Brigade, 203rd Corps.

'You are a great example of our army putting its best foot forward,' said Naseer Hedayt. 'Your efforts and training made me very proud today.'

As the FCOE grows, as does the ANA and its capabilities. Providing highly trained soldiers for years to come on their own will only help solidify themselves as a respectable force.

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