The sound of an M16 rifle, its functions, parts and operations is anything but unfamiliar to Marines. However, to the Afghan National Army soldiers enrolled in the Small Arms Weapons Instructors Course, they are learning the sound for the first time aboard Camp Leatherneck, May 1 – June 16.
For the first time in the history of Joint Security Academy Southwest, 16 Afghan soldiers are scheduled to spend six weeks training with Marines to become experts in the use of several small arms weapons, such as the M16 rifle, Smith and Wesson Sigma 9mm pistol, GP30 grenade launcher, AK-47 assault rifle and PKM machine gun.
“The purpose of this course is to train Afghan soldiers to be instructors so that they can train the soldiers in their units how to properly use different weapons systems,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley O. Brockman, the Team Delta officer-in-charge at JSAS.
The course is designed to be similar to Marine Corps weapons instructor training, except the Afghan soldiers are given more range time and a wider variety of weapon systems to learn.
“They have to know every aspect of these weapons, how to shoot as well as how to teach all of the information they learn,” said Sgt. Harold Dean Price Jr., a weapons instructor at JSAS. “They have to be able to teach everything that they learn back to us in order for us to graduate them as weapons instructors.”
Price, a native of Clinton, S.C., explained how the Afghan soldiers showed their excellence throughout the first two weeks of training.
“These individuals are motivated and quick to learn. If this course continues to have this much success, I see it benefitting the future of Afghanistan,” he said.
In an attempt to spread the positive effects of the course, the Afghans in the class have all come from different units.
Staff Sgt. Asad Ullah, the course’s class leader, who is stationed out of Lugar province, has had experience working in logistics and infantry, but none of his prior training and experiences come close to the caliber of his new knowledge.
“Before I came here I had no knowledge of these weapons,” Ullah said. “The things that are taught in this course will help the ANA and our country for years.”
There are four weeks left in the course, and the soldiers still have a lot to learn. Graduation is scheduled for June 16.
Article by Lance Cpl. Daniel Wulz, Regional Command Southwest