Afghanistan may be far away from home here in Cooke County, but 1st Lt. Mark Lindsley, a 26-year-old Marine from Gainesville, is currently deployed there to help train the Afghan Army in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
In a telephone interview Monday morning, Contingency Media Relations Specialist Jared Williams of the Marines said that Lindsley’s training advisory role is to help train Afghan soliders and police to set up security operations in Afghanistan.
Williams said one of the goals is to train as many Afghan soldiers as possible to continue to enable them to start taking over more security roles in their country.
Lindsley is working with small-unit leaders to incorporate vehicle patrols into the training and skills of non-commissioned officers with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army. Following training, the Afghan leaders will pass on their skills to the home units they work with.
Marines Media Relations Specialist Timothy Love, in a press release sent out dated Nov. 4, said training recently took place Nov. 2 at the Joint Security Academy Southwest at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.
The Marine instructors trained the officers in communication techniques, safety and patrol tactics before they hit the road for “hands-on training.”
Following the morning instruction, Lindsley, who is one of the JSAS team leaders, then took his students out to begin the “practical application” portion of the training.
The students patrolled Camp Leatherneck after loading up in a four-vehicle convoy and practiced keeping in sync with each other through their radios. The exercise simulated the congested streets of a crowded bazaar area where there is heavy traffic, where the students will likely find themselves patrolling in real time in the near future.
Lindsley said his students were quick to adapt and adjust to the tasks during the hands-on portion of the training.
“We had the Marines as drivers,” Lindsley said on a video briefing of the training, “but the rest of the positions in the vehicle, the vehicle commander, the dismounts and the gunner, were Afghans. The Afghans ran the patrol with very little input from the Marines.”
Part of the training was to practice and demonstrate their proficiency to dismount from their trucks during a halt in the convoy. Some of the students were ordered to leave the vehicles during the halt and to search the surrounding area for hidden explosives and to provide security. Those at gunner stations practiced by training their weapons on areas which left them exposed.
During the exercise each truck’s vehicle commander worked to keep the whole patrol on the same page through the training exercise.
Lindsley said the biggest challenge during the training is working through the medium of a translator. Lindsley’s instruction is translated to the students and then waits for a reply.
“They did very well,” Lindsley said. “They’ve made a lot of headway from where they were before to now. They’re actually calling out commands and telling us where to put the vehicles, and the dismounts are actually moving out of the vehicle in an expedient manner.”
Following training comes real patrols where the NCOs will be part of the group that helps to police Afghanistan to make it safe by keeping the enemy out of the battlefield and finding mines easily.
“Obviously as we start transferring control of Afghanistan over to the national forces that they have here they will start relying more on their NCOs to lead them on both mounted and dismounted patrols,” Lindsley noted.