“We’re not going to be able to fight our way out of this conflict”, said Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph R. Beam, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. The DoD Bloggers Roundtable met with Beam on Thursday morning to discuss Non-Commissioned Officer training for the Afghan National Security Forces. The message that Beam brought is that leader development is critical to the war effort which is the focus of NTMA. A real challenge is an effective personnel development program for NCOs and creating the NCO force that the Afghans need in order to have an effective fighting force.
He described morale as good and that the Afghans want to protect their country but heavy combat for some has had a negative impact. To bolster the forces there are 4,000 NCOs in training at any one time with 5 different level courses starting at team leader and moving up to the Sergeant Major Course at the top. Right now there is a 12,000 NCO shortage due to the fast ramp up of Afghan forces but retention for NCOs is at the 65% level and training will fill the holes. By October 2011 (one year) they expect to have reduced the NCO shortfall by 4,700 leaving it at 7,300.
The biggest challenge for the NCO training like many other courses is literacy. The Afghans have tied literacy requirements for NCO course attendance and promotion. All soldiers receive extensive literacy training but with limited literacy rates among the population the efforts must continue throughout all the courses. Full development of the NCO corps will take an additional 4-5 years according to Beam. But he cited the biggest success since his arrival nine months ago as Afghan led training! He was excited over the training being led by Afghans and how it is impacting training effectiveness which led to his closing statement:
“But, you know, we're realistic about the challenges we face, but, you know, we're pretty optimistic we're going to achieve our shared vision for the future. And that's, you know, Afghanistan secured by trained Afghan leaders, because we know we're not going to be able to fight out our way out of this conflict. We have to train our way out of the conflict. And that's what we're trying to do right now, and I think we're doing pretty good at it.”
I think this is a very realistic approach to ending this war and eventually bringing our guys and gals home! Thank you Command Sergeant Major Beam for sharing!
If you would like to listen to an audio or read a transcript of this interesting Roundtable please go to DoDLive. To see more Col K Blogs concerning Afghanistan on MilitaryAvenue please click here. The super Reading Room at MilitaryAvenue has additional articles from multiple sources as well!
Photo Credit: Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph R. Beam, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/ Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of NTM-A/CSTC-A DoDLive