Author Topic: Canadians at KMTC: Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghan gunners  (Read 1324 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

CVA_Posting

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 536
    • View Profile
    • Canadian Veterans Advocacy
Canadians at KMTC: Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghan gunners

Beneath the pristine blue sky, the stillness of the desert 10 kilometers east of Kabul is shattered by the blast of a 122-mm D-30 howitzer, a weapon of Soviet design. Moments later, the shell explodes at the base of the mountains in the distance.
Source: Canadians at KMTC: Working shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghan gunners


By Captain Mathew Molsberry

Beneath the pristine blue sky, the stillness of the desert 10 kilometers east of Kabul is shattered by the blast of a 122-mm D-30 howitzer, a weapon of Soviet design. Moments later, the shell explodes at the base of the mountains in the distance.

The Afghan gunners immediately turn to their Canadian mentor for some indication of how they did, and Captain Mike Astalos smiles and nods his approval. They’re making progress.

Morale is running high in the Artillery Training Team – Kabul (ATT-K), currently made up of soldiers of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery from Shilo, Manitoba. Deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan, the Canadian gunners are actively engaged in guiding soldiers training at the Afghan National Army (ANA) School of Artillery at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC).

In a nation with a 70-percent illiteracy rate, teaching recruits the intricacies of ballistics is not a straightforward task,and a mentor needs patience as much as professional knowledge and skill. The soldiers working the guns must apply precise numbers correctly if they are to put their rounds on target safely. Many of them carry out this task only a few short weeks after learning to read and interpret these numbers.

What is even more challenging is that many Afghan soldiers tasked with computing firing data and sending it to the guns began their training with very little knowledge of numbers and no mathematics at all. By the time some of them finish their training, they have covered the vast distance between learning to count above ten to performing the calculations required to lob a 23-kilogram (50-pound) shell more than 15 kilometers to hit a target they cannot see — and do it accurately and safely.

But teaching Afghan soldiers how to use artillery proficiently isn’t even half the equation. The ultimate goal is to build capacity in the ANA, so Afghan military leaders can teach their own recruits. Consequently, the NATO training mission must focus on a “train the trainer” curriculum that will continue after the nations of the International Security Assistance Force turn the reins of security over to the ANA and the Afghan National Police. A more complex task, this involves not only conveying technical knowledge, but also nurturing leadership skills to ensure that the Afghan forces develop and sustain the discipline they need to overcome the insurgencies they face.

NATO’s over-arching aim, applied to the Afghan artillery, is to ensure sustainability, quality, professionalism, and capacity of ANA artillery instructors.

As the NATO training mission develops, control of classes will shift gradually from Canadian and other coalition mentors to ANA instructors. Currently, some classes are taught almost exclusively by ANA instructors, while others are instructed mainly by NATO mentors.

The artillery mission is still in its infancy and the ANA artillery has work to do before it is ready to stand on its own, but today’s progress indicates that the mission has a good chance of success.

That’s why his students’ determination to succeed brings a smile to Capt Astalos’ lips. “This mission is gratifying in that we’re giving the ANA the tools it needs to carry on the fight against the insurgency,” he said. “The Afghan soldiers are eager to take the lead in this conflict.”

Captain Mathew Molsberry of the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, from Shilo, Manitoba, is deployed on Operation ATTENTION as an artillery mentor at the Kabul Military Training Centre.



Artillery mentor Bdr Jason Pridham (second from right) watches Afghan senior NCOs in training at the ANA Artillery School as they prepare rounds for a live-fire exercise with 122-mm D-30 howitzers.


Artillery mentor Bdr Jason Pridham (right) confirms with Afghan sergeants in training at the ANA Artillery School that their gun is aimed correctly during a live-fire exercise with 122-mm D-30 howitzers.


An Afghan lieutenant-colonel delivers a safety briefing to senior NCOs in training at the ANA Artillery School during a live-fire exercise with 122-mm D-30 howitzers.


Lt Simon Frewin (left) of the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery watches over Afghan artillery officers working with firing tables and calculating the safety parameters — elevation and arcs of fire — of a live-fire exercise with 122-mm D-30 howitzers.


After firing his 122-mm D-30 howitzer, an Afghan artillery sergeant ejects the shell casings while the safety officer (visible to the left of the gun barrel) observes the fall of shot.