Regional Corps Battle School now teaching artillery
By Sgt. Bryan Peterson
| II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) | June 28, 2013
CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan --
After Afghan National Army Staff Sgt. Narooli Talash joined the ANA three years ago, he spent three months at the Kabul Military Training Center in Afghanistan’s capital to become an artilleryman.
But since then, he’s spent his time as an infantryman with 4th Kandak, or battalion, 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, fighting the enemies of Afghanistan in Delaram and Now Zad districts in Helmand province. When he heard he was coming to Camp Shorabak to refresh his cannonneer skills during a Regional Corps Battle School artillery course from June 17-July7, he couldn’t wait.
“The closest I’ve gotten to shoot anything compared to artillery were the mortars,” said Talash. “But, I love artillery and what it can do for us. I’m excited to be here.”
Throughout the course, Marines with Regional Command (Southwest)’s RCBS have taught Talash and 25 other ANA soldiers about the fundamentals of artillery at Camp Shorabak’s Regional Military Training Center, here. Whether the training was a refresher for some or new experience for others, the soldiers are being trained so they can go back to their units and teach others through a method known as “train the trainer.”
The “train the trainer” concept is built around Coalition Security Force Assistance teams who teach critical capabilities to select ANA soldiers and Afghan policemen who can then train others as Coalition forces draw down.
The training was split up into three classes: gun line, forward observer and fire direction center.
The three-week course, the battle school’s first artillery training program, however, doesn’t include live-fire training. Rather, the Marine instructors are teaching the soldiers how to set up a howitzer, accurately locate targets and relay information from the forward observers to the gun line, through the fire direction center.
The course will culminate with an exercise prior to graduation, July 7. The artillerymen, forward observers and fire direction center soldiers will receive a mission to locate targets to test their communication abilities.
First Lt. Steven Craig, the RCBS fires advisor, said the soldiers are grasping the knowledge quickly and those who have previous artillery experience are stepping in to help teach.
“The soldiers who have the experience are a big help out here, because they teach what they know to the soldiers in the class and communicate more effectively,” said Craig, a Moorpark, Calif., native. “This is great, because the intent of the course is to get these soldiers in the teaching mindset for when they get back and they’re already doing it.”
Craig said when the course began the soldiers were taking in a lot of knowledge in the classroom, but they spent more time outside getting familiar with the Russian-made 122mm D-30 howitzer.
He added the soldiers are visual learners and conducting repetitive drills on the howitzer helps them understand better.
“Artillery is a technical job,” said Craig. “There’s a lot of math involved and when you’re trying to get the howitzers all on line, facing the right direction, it’s easily forgettable if you’re not doing this every day.”
In the forward observer class, Sgt. Levi Slife, a RCBS joint terminal attack controller, taught soldiers how to find enemy targets far away from friendly lines. His goal is to get the soldiers to find the enemy’s distance and relay the information to soldiers in the FDC, who then relay it to the gun line.
Slife role played during the course, acting as if he was working in the FDC so he could communicate with the students in the class.
“I found (the role playing method) to be very effective with the Afghan soldiers,” said the Littleton, Colo., native. “I taught them everything from finding the enemy, calling in for fire and making changes to adjust fire. They started getting it once I acted as if I was in the FDC.”
During breaks in between classes, Slife was happy to see the soldiers still practicing.
“It just goes to show these guys are committed,” Slife said.
Talash, who is eager to train others, wants to go back to his unit, gather some other soldiers in the FO and FDC classes who will be returning to Now Zad and begin training immediately.
“We will have a complete artillery system in place by the time this course is over,” said Talash. “We will be able to conduct training all the time, and, if there’s a need for artillery, we will be proficient enough to take out the enemy.”