By Jason Tudor
GCMC Public Affairs
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – “Substantial change over the past year” highlighted in a lecture to students at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies from the NATO group that trains Afghan military forces.
A contingent from NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan spent the day at the Marshall Center talking to staff members and interacting with better than 140 students in the Program in Advanced Security Studies Dec. 9. The group also visited the NATO School in nearby Oberammergau Dec. 10.
“Given the mission and composition of the group, I thought it would be a good idea for our course participants to hear from practitioners in the field,” said Dr. Matthew Rhodes, PASS executive director. “I want them to give the students a better idea of what they are actually doing and what the mission is.”
Speakers noted the difference in one year’s work. In training the Afghan National Army, the mission has 1,430 advisers. Almost 2,000 of the instructors are in the Afghan National Army and train about 6,000 soldiers per month.
For the Afghan National Police, there are 650 trainers. Almost 800 are Afghan National Police instructors training about 8,500 per month at 37 training sites across the country. According to the mission, Afghan National Security Forces stand at about 263,000 people, including a recent graduation of women officers into the Army.
“Trainers and training provided by the military community are the key to the success in Afghanistan,” said British Army Col. Nigel Jefferson, director of the mission’s strategy and plans directorate.
Meanwhile, one of the chief concerns in training Afghans is literacy. “We’ve had people die because they weren’t able to call in their grid coordinates and get help in time,” Colonel Jefferson added.
Afghan Brig. Gen. Asadullah Akramyar, the deputy executive officer to the Afghan minister of defense, thanked the Marshall Center audience, which included three Afghan students and participants from 59 other countries. There are 140 students in the current session of the PASS.
“Our efforts and your nations’ efforts will ensure success,” the general said.
According to Colonel Jefferson, the mission’s training doesn't end after an Afghan leaves an instructor’s classroom. “I must stress,” he said, “that there is continued training and development once soldiers are delivered to the field.”
Dr. Rhodes said some of what was said will be familiar to the Afghan students, but the reinforcement of the commitment was worth the visit. “It’s a validation of the importance of their country and of this mission,” Dr. Rhodes said.