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Marines training with Advisor Training Cell, I Marine Expeditionary Force, teach Afghan role-players proper weapons handling techniques, Oct. 25. The role-players are meant to simulate scenarios Marines might face while deployed to Afghanistan.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua B. Young

Afghan role-players invaluable for I MEF training

28 Oct 2011 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Young

I Marine Expeditionary Force is immersing Marines in Afghan culture before they deploy to Afghanistan.

The Advisor Training Cell uses Afghan role-players to conduct situation awareness training for units preparing to deploy to Afghanistan to train Afghan national security forces.

The role-players simulate scenarios Marines may face during their deployment.

“When we go in country, we are going to teach their non-commissioned officers,” said Cpl. Alexander M. Peters, 25, an advisor with the Police Advisory Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. “We want to make sure that everyone knows their jobs.”

After the Marines teach the selected Afghan unit leaders they will test to make sure the soldiers or policemen retain the knowledge.

“We are pulling aside their NCOs and their key leaders and teaching them,” Peters said. “Before they teach their guys, we ask them to teach us so that we know they’re on the same page.”

The Marines are responsible for critiquing the Afghan unit leaders and to act as advisors as they pass the learned knowledge to Afghan forces.

“We watch and advise,” Peters said. “We don’t interrupt them, but we let them teach their guys. After they’re done, we pull the instructors aside and brief them. They’ll go back and re-teach it with improvements we taught them.”

The role-players use interpreters to communicate with the Marines during training to simulate the language barrier they will face in Afghanistan.

“For those who have never worked with foreign forces before, it gets you used to dealing with the language barrier and the challenges that comes up,” said Lance Cpl. Cavender Sutton, a 21-year-old military policeman with PAT 2/5. “Using an interpreter is harder to do than people realize.”

Another challenge Marines face in Afghanistan is a cultural barrier.

“I’ve never dealt with people from Afghanistan,” Peters said. “Being able to train with the role-players, hearing them speak their language, learning their customs and just being able to practice before we go over is very valuable to us.”

The ATC uses role-players to train units prior to deployments. The ATC trains Marines to advise and mentor Afghan forces and to overcome the language and culture barriers they will face.

“We are not going to be there forever,” Sutton said. “They’ve got to be able to stand up on their own and protect their own people.”