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Kabul’s eye

CONSTANT confl ict,
cycle for each company; the Afghan trainers
harsh terrain and
33 lessons include personal, sometimes love to
hardship may have
advanced and combat fi tness exert ownership on
tests, command tasks and anyone or anything.
moulded Afghans into competitions – stretcher races, Trying to
Afghanistan has not had a national ar
courageous fi ghters; this
cross-country, assault courses teach, explain
since its fragmentation and subseq
does not mean that the
and log runs. and demonstrate
disintegration af
ter the collapse of the
Soviet led regime in 1
task of creating a new
New offi cer cadet companies more productive 992.
are formed periodically. and more positive
army is an easy one. Hundreds of potential approaches to
A decade later American led coalition f
Apart from the usual intake of candidates converge on the doing business
were charged with training, eq
young cadets, there’s also a pool training camp from all corners can be a constant
uipping and
of combat veterans – almost all
of Afghanistan to take part in a challenge.
ting the new Afghan N
ational Army.
were guerrilla fi ghters in the selection process. Connecting with
past, but they’d never served in Rigorous physical tests the Afghans is
Situated on the outskir
ts of Kabul and
an organised, professional army are carried out by the Afghan not always easy
surrounded by the Hindu K
ush mountains
loyal to the state. National Army and monitored by but they are often lies Kabul Military Training Cam
WE DON’T often quote Lieutenant Colonel
p which
The chaos of the 1990s British teams. The numbers are co-operative and has been in operation since N
T E Lawrence – ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – in
also meant that military norms then whittled down to provide an forever smiling!
such as professional training, entry of approximately 140 men.
these pages. discipline and strong leadership
were non-existent.
IT’S wise to take time to understanding of And within its walls can be f
ound Cam
Even less frequently do we quote a chief
On top of that, historical and
understand the cadets; the the Afghan way Alamo where coalition f
orces carry out and
clubz citing the inspirational leader. social factors such as a weak
normal approach to PT in the UK of life will give
mentor all aspects of militar
central government and ethnic
does not work in Kabul. you some hope of
y training for
But here acting CPO(PTI) Dean Steer
the ANA.
rivalries have contributed to
A conscious effort has to achieving some
(pictured above overseeing press-up drills), the arduous task of building the
be made to be warm and of the objectives;
Afghan National Army.
approachable and not jump to to lose sight of it
Camp Alamo is controlled by American
gives a unique insight not only into teaching
But here goes...
conclusions no matter what the could lead to your
National Guard and houses coalition
physical training to cadets in the Afghan
situation. demise as a mentor
forces from UK, F
rance, Romania and N
PHYSICAL training has to Thoughts of changing a and teacher. Zealand. The UK Leadership T
raining T
Army, but also life in this troubled land.
be delivered with the help of cadet’s attitude towards physical Winning trust
(UKLTT) com
prises 63 British personnel
interpreters who ensure the training soon evaporate when should be the fi rst
providing all aspects of of
smooth delivery of instruction you experience thermonuclear and only goal.
fi cer and non-
commissioned of
and mentoring. levels of frustrations at their Overweening self-
fi cer military training.
● The Kabul branch of the AA found itself short of vehicles...
And that adds a new twist to
Cadets haul a 4x4 as part of their physical training
aptitude. belief has no place
the instructor’s delivery skills. It Understanding their needs here – we are all
takes a little time to adjust to – is very important; they respond visitors in a troubled land and
although learning as many key well when lavished with praise our fi rst duty is to listen. are extremely warm and
words in Dari as possible has for minor triumphs and the We should not try to change accepting of our guidance and
proved useful. response will be instant and their way of doing business. We support.
The setting for all this gratifying.
are not here to pass judgment Coalition forces will not be
instruction is pretty impressive. It is always best to resist the
on their methods and whatever leaving Kabul Military Training
Sitting in a large dusty bowl temptation to criticise failure, it
they do to achieve their aim Camp anytime soon – the plan
surrounded by the remnants will get you precisely nowhere.
must be respected for we are
is to swell the Afghan National
of what was once a Russian Grinning – as is their nature –
nothing more than guests.
Army from 70,000 to 134,000
stronghold is the six-kilometre makes them seem somewhat
Our standards are not their
by the end of 2010. By that time
square training area. Gharib child-like; it is likened to being
standards and coming to terms
the mentoring role will turn into
Ghar (‘mountain’) acts as the team leader at your local
with that can take time to
a monitoring programme for the
backdrop for a quite spectacular kindergarten.
Afghan ‘mentees’.
setting for military training. Although overall their fi tness
These zestful cadets embrace
Try to remember that the
The training area is used by is extremely good (mainly due
physical training with vigour.
British Army has been around
thousands of cadets and security to the luxury of being slight
Competitions are taken very
over 200 years, the Afghan
forces and could not be a more individuals who were born at
seriously – although it’s often
National Army began offi cially
suitable choice for mentoring altitude) the cadets sometimes
driven by an attempt to get ‘one
just seven years ago.
the ANA offi cers and teaching lack team cohesion, natural
military tactics to cadets.
up’ on rivals.
It will take many more years
leadership and that all-important of training the Afghan National
Why? Well, when the Russians grit.
IT IS a unique challenge to be
Army before they can gain the
made their fi nal withdrawal, This is something that we try
part of rebuilding the Afghan
manpower, experience and
most of the military hardware
to pass on to them via command
National Army. It’s provided
expertise required to stand
was abandoned, leaving
tasks and team competitions.
those of us here an insight to the
alone to fi ght the Taleban and
hundreds of tanks, support
Although the cadets are keen,
culture and work ethics of the
get on with the laborious task
vehicles, helicopters and even
weak leadership from their
Afghan people.
of rebuilding their country
a jet fi ghter.
offi cers can prove irritating.
There are always likely infrastructure.
The main role is to deliver
Due to ethnic and tribal
to be teething problems As T E Lawrence once said:
instruction directly to the Afghan
persuasion, position, status
including cultural differences, Do not try to do too much with
offi cers so that their trained
and power are all that matters misunderstanding brought on by your own hands. Better they do
strength can be effective and
to some trainees. Status is different work ethics, language it tolerably well than you do it
conferred by the size of the barriers and the average perfectly. It is their war and you
Physical training and
offi ce, the number of personal Afghan’s ability to absorb and are here to help them, not win it
command tasks are carried out
staff and the speed of the staff act on information. for them. It is their country and
throughout the 26-week training
car. That said, the Afghan people your time is short.

obson rm
oy r
es: wo2 mac mcleod (army) and wo2 tr
● Afghan cadets – helped by a British PTI – haul a log with the
Gharib Ghar in the background
030_NN_July.indd 1 19/6/09 12:20:48
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