REBUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE |
May 27, 2010
Name: CPT Mark Martin
Posting date: 5/26/10
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: New Hope, MN
Milblog: 270 Days in Afghanistan
Once "tip of the spear" combat operations were over here in Afghanistan, and the Taliban had been banished back to their caves in the mountains like goblins in a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, we started the exhaustive process of rebuilding the infrastructure of the country. Like so many undefined and unquantified projects, this has been a journey with almost no end in sight. The U.S. Army's efforts in this area have included the purchase of equipment for the Afghan National Army in the form of vehicles and weapon systems.
One of those vehicles is the Medium Tactical Vehicle (better known as "Internationals"). We purchased these trucks for the Afghan Army to replace their aging and mostly broken down fleet of cargo trucks so that we could help them improve their mobility and ability to supply their troops on the battlefield. A few years down the road, we started to find that the Afghans were doing a relatively poor job of maintaining these vehicles. Once we started to investigate, we found that attrition and lack of internal training management had degraded their ability to drive and perform maintenance on the vehicles. Therefore, in a cooperative venture with our German Army counterparts here in Regional Command North, we launched a driver's training course with a heavy emphasis on maintenance.
My partner in this venture, First Lieutenant Tritton from the German Army, is much like me. He was prior service enlisted before he commissioned as an officer. He's got about 20 years in the German Army, and he has been a Maintenance Platoon Leader in his German Airborne unit at home. Sounds pretty familiar! He has a great focus on training soldiers, and wasted no time in jumping behind the dashboard with these guys to start teaching them about their vehicle.
Of course, any time there is an engine and two or more wheels involved, I have been hard pressed to keep my resident mechanic away. True to his nature, SPC Lane was right there along with us, teaching our Afghans. In so many ways, our team has people with a wide spectrum of experience and knowledge that they bring to the table to make our mission successful. Lane is one of those guys who can look at something mechanical and tell you everything there is to know about how to fix it. It's uncanny.
This training is a "train the trainer" course, and on the first day, I had to send four guys back to their company because they were illiterate. I apologized to them and explained that I needed people who were able to read and write so that they could then go back to their companies and train the rest of their soldiers about the vehicle. All in all, I think the program of instruction is a good one. The next mentorship challenge will be to encourage them to share their knowledge with other soldiers.