Photo Information

Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Abdul Hadi Khalil, left, the deputy commanding general of the 215th Corps, salutes ANA soldiers with the 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade during an opening ceremony for an operational readiness cycle at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, May 20, 2017. U.S. Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest will assess and make recommendations for sustainment and improvements throughout the eight-week course, which is led by the Helmand Province Regional Military Training Center. More than 600 ANA soldiers will develop their technical and tactical infantry skills to help thwart enemy presence in the region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

Photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Task Force Southwest supports first Operational Readiness Cycle

26 May 2017 | Sgt. Lucas Hopkins II Marine Expeditionary Force

For the next eight weeks, Afghan RMTC instructors will train the battalion-sized element of soldiers on various infantry capabilities with assessments and recommendations from a team of approximately 15 Marine advisors assigned to Task Force Southwest.

“Our focus of effort is really on helping the RMTC instructors provide better instruction and a better training plan, something that’s efficient and effective,” said Marine Capt. Rich Laszok, the advising team commander. “This allows the generation of forces to get back to the front line for the 215th Corps.”

The ORC is a pivotal factor in the Task Force’s train, advise and assist mission, as Marines with the unit also advise key leaders in the 215th Corps and 505th Zone National Police. Soldiers are retaught the basics, such as weapons handling and combat casualty care, and will eventually conduct training events such as live-fire ranges with both small-arms and crew-served weapons and company-sized offensive clearing engagements.

“I am trying my best for these soldiers to become better and better – to work hard and to train hard, both here and on the battlefield,” said 1st Sgt. Abdul Aziz, the 1st Sgt. of Headquarters Company, 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade. “I want them to be a part of one team in the fight against the enemy.”

The Marine Corps’ combat operations in Afghanistan ended in late 2014. While the approximately 300 Marines and Sailors with Task Force Southwest are not in a combat role, their work alongside members of the Afghan National Defense Security Forces is crucial to enabling the security and stability of Helmand Province.

“As we’re helping with the training and going through the ORC, we’re trying to push them to become a better organization,” said Laszok. “Both the RMTC and the Kandak leadership so far have shown a lot of potential. I think that if they execute and follow through with all the recommendations, they’ll grow a lot in this cycle.”

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