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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ISAF team trains ANA humanitarian de-miners

17 April 2007
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson
American Forces Network – Afghanistan

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – ISAF soldiers empowered Afghans with taking care of their own security by training humanitarian de-mining teams here.

“This training is a step forward to making a safer Afghanistan,” said Army Capt. Chris Nuckols, 207th Regional Security Assistance Command embedded tactical team. “The work we are doing here today will make for a safer tomorrow.”

Members of the Afghan National Army spent April 12-14 learning two levels of de-mining. Taking the de-miners course and de-miners pre-deployment course the ANA members were learning de-mining to international standards. This training made them qualified to conduct de-mining operations anywhere in the world.

“After these ANA members complete this training they will be able to clear land for buildings or farming,” said Australian Maj. Alex Thomson, Royal Australian Engineer officer in charge of the Operation Enduring Freedom mine action center. “Being trained will help them be ready to serve their community.”

In the past, the de-mining course graduated individual Afghan humanitarian de-miners. Even if those de-miners cleared a field they would still have to wait for someone else trained to international standards to come behind them to clear a field. This new course will graduate highly skilled teams so they can clear the fields without help.

“We can now help our own people ourselves,” said ANA Sgt. Said Arif, ANA humanitarian de-miner. “The classroom instructors have been enjoyable and helping me to be able to serve my country.”

When the class graduates, the ANA will have three new de-mining teams of 12-14 members capable of clearing 1,500 to 2,000 square meters of fields per day. Not only will the ANA members be able to clear mines they will also be able to clear unexploded ordnance.

“Seeing the Afghan people empowered to help themselves is something we take pride in,” Nuckols said. “They love our assistance and we enjoy helping them help themselves.”

The new ANA humanitarian de-miners are expected to graduate April 23.

Photo: Members of the Afghan National Army go through a field training exercise during the De-mining Pre-deployment Course here April 12. The first teams of Afghan Humanitarian De-miners are scheduled to graduate April 23. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson).

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