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Afghan artillerymen with the 215th Corps, Afghan National Army, fire a D-30 122 mm howitzer during a live-fire exercise aboard Camp Shorabak, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 12, 2014. The exercise was the culminating event of the six-week D-30 instructor course, which proved the Afghan soldiers ability to instruct future artillerymen in map plotting and firing of the D-30. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Young)

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Young

Afghans prove proficiency in artillery training

17 Mar 2014 | Cpl. Joshua Young

Soldiers with the 215th Corps, Afghan National Army, completed a six-week D-30 122 mm howitzer instructor course aboard Camp Shorabak, March 12.

The culminating day of exercises confirmed the ability of the Afghan soldiers to not only accurately fire the howitzer but also instruct others in the process.

“They learned how to do it in the past with International Security Assistance Force instructors, now these guys are going to be the instructors,” said British Army Capt. William Carter, Indirect Fire Specialist Advisor Team officer in charge, Regional Corps Battle School. “Knowing they’ve done it properly and effectively gives them the confidence to go ahead and teach.”

The six-week program started with a two-week map reading instructor’s course to test each Afghan soldier’s individual skills and assign them the trade they will later teach. Following the map reading course, the soldiers completed the four-week D-30 training course.

“Throughout the course, we’ve known we have a good, intelligent group of guys on the course,” said Carter, 26, from Salisbury, England. “Just seeing them do it gives us the confidence they can.”

The Afghan students fired more than a dozen rounds from the D-30 during the final day of the program. They did all of the target spotting, map plotting, adjustments, and data calculations without the help of coalition forces.

“The whole thing today is being run by the Afghans,” said British Army Sgt. Martin Blackett, a D-30 instructor with Indirect Fire Specialist Advisor Team, Regional Corps Battle School. “This was a confirmation to say, ‘Yes they’re good enough and they can instruct.’”

The day went off without a hitch, Carter said. Although there was a misfire, they handled it exactly as trained and safely executed the corrective procedures. The Afghan students will be responsible for teaching the next group of artillerymen.

“We taught them the training, taught them how to deliver the training and now we’ve just watched them do it themselves,” said Blackett, 32, from Chelmsford, Essex, England. “They’ve done amazing. I’m like a proud dad who’s watched his kid ride a bike without stabilizers for the first time.”

I Marine Expeditionary Force