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ANA combat camera team becomes first in eastern Afghanistan

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Afghan National Army troops now have the skills and equipment to document their successes in securing eastern Afghanistan.

French combat camera soldiers with Task Force La Fayette’s video and photography team, enhanced by a military officer from France, conducted a two-week course taught on the role of combat camera teams and their equipment.

In another step towards autonomy for the ANA, Afghan leadership from the 31st Kandak, 201st ANA Corps sent an officer, NCO and enlisted photographer to train with the French at Forward Operating Base Tagab, Nov. 30 to Dec. 14.

The training included the theory and basic rules of photography and design. French instructors conducted an intensive and personalized program, focusing on practical exercises. Throughout the course, students learned the basic techniques of image and audio capturing, and processing both still and video for final editing and use.

“I could not imagine that we can get this level with them after only three weeks of training,” said French 1st Lt. Bérangère, the lead instructor. “Their motivation is clear. Sometimes I go to the workroom, they are there; going back over the training— it's nice."

For this initial Afghan combat camera team, French instructors outfitted the team with a Nikon D80 digital still camera, two Nikon lenses, a Sony Z1 handheld camcorder, and two editing workstations.

The course ended with an operational phase; the team shooting a combined Afghan and French patrol conducted in the market of Tagab. With the training complete, the French will continue to coach and mentor their Afghan partners until they can operate independently.

"The videographer surprised us all. He understood the technical side, but also had a flair for the artistic,” said Bérangère. “He is now able to capture and edit alone a finished product, with a voiceover.”

With additional training scheduled for 2012, the French hope to see the ANA take action to promote their capabilities and capacities to both internal and external audiences.

Article by French Army 1st Lt. Aurelie Lattès, RC-East PAO