Photo Information

Sgt. Jeffrey A. Whalen, a counter-improvised explosive device course instructor with 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, teaches Afghan National Army soldiers about commonly found explosives during the Counter-IED Course held at the Joint Security Academy Southwest at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Aug. 15.::r::::n::

Photo by Cpl. Brian Gabriel

Afghan leaders hone bomb detection skills

15 Aug 2010 | Cpl. Brian Gabriel

Afghan National Army soldiers across Helmand province can expect a crash course in bomb detection skills from their leaders in the near future.

ANA non-commissioned officers from the 215th Corps participated in the counter-improvised explosive device section of the NCO course at the Joint Security Academy Southwest here Aug. 15.

The NCO course is tailored for the first level of ANA leadership—the small-unit leaders directly in charge of junior soldiers. The students will improve their tactical competency during the nine-week leadership class, and will be better prepared to lead their own soldiers.

Sgt. Habib Ruhman, an NCO course student in the 215th Corps, said he is already planning a training schedule for his junior soldiers when he returns to his unit after graduation.

"I will explain to my soldiers the proper actions they must take if they locate an IED," Ruhman said. "It is important for us to use all the training we learned before we go on a mission."

Sgt. Hazabullah, an NCO course student in the 215th Corps, stressed the importance of sharing the knowledge from the C-IED course with the soldiers under his charge.

Hazabullah said when he returns to his unit, he will explain all the knowledge he has learned about IEDs. Many of his soldiers do not have the same level of training with IEDs that he now possesses.

Such a level of training is necessary in a battlefield environment where IEDs are a threat to both civilians and coalition forces. A July 2010 report from the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization states more than 1,000 IED-related incidents occurred between March and May of this year. The NCOs of the ANA will have to continually sharpen their troops’ C-IED knowledge, as well as their own, to combat the IED threats in Afghanistan.

The C-IED class began with a series of Marine-led discussions on the fundamentals of deadly explosives found throughout Helmand province. The soldiers familiarized themselves with replications of IEDs commonly employed by the Taliban.

"The main points from the class were how to recognize an IED, the materials that make up an IED and how to react after finding an IED," Ruhman said. "We are receiving good training from our Marine mentors."

The students applied their classroom-taught training to a hands-on, field environment during a simulated routine patrol with multiple IED threats. Sgt. Maj. Wali Tanha, the head Afghan National Army instructor at JSAS, expressed the importance that his students become accustomed to encountering IEDs in the battlefield.

"It is very important to have these skills when on patrol," Tanha said. "The soldiers should know how to protect themselves from IEDs."

In addition to improving themselves tactically, Tanha believes that these newly-trained ANA leaders are shaping the future of Afghanistan.

Tanha said most of the students have learned everything in this course through hands-on experience. Many students were denied a formal education because of the long history of war in Afghanistan. By making the country a safer place, the soldiers are giving the new generation of Afghans a better upbringing.

NCO course students will not only use the skills taught at JSAS to better themselves and their soldiers, but also to improve their homeland, Tanha said.