LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan -- For the past three weeks, U.S. Marines with Task Force Southwest conducted a map reading class for the Operational Coordination Center – Provincial members and check point commanders at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan.
On July 22, 2017, those Afghan National Defense and Security Force partners received their certificates and graduated from the class with a new skill set allowing a more accurate and efficient way to track friendly and enemy movements.
“At the very base, [this class was given] to ensure our ANSDF partners are able to read maps,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Somers, an advisor with Task Force Southwest. “Not only just to see a map and see what’s there, but to be able to build upon their skills they already have, so later they can actually coordinate movements and coordinate friendly positions.”
The map reading class covered multiple areas including measuring straight and curved line distances, as well as being able to plot and pull a six-digit grid off a map. They also focused on terrain association, a skill that will allow them to find locations based off of a verbal description.
“In my opinion, the map reading class was very surprising and it was fantastic for us,” said 1st Lt. Azizullah Ahmadi, 5th Brigade, Afghan National Civil Order Police. “We learned a lot of good and important things from the class, especially now since we are busy [conducting operations].”
Somers said that they are setting up more courses through the Regional Military Training Center for the checkpoint commanders. They will also start Current Operational Picture courses that are essential to day-to-day OCC operations.
The next classes will build upon the map reading class, allowing the students to battle track utilizing a map, as well as electronic systems like Google Earth.
“I hope they build upon [these skills],” said Somers. “Map reading is a basic military skill, and in today’s society we rely on GPS or cell phones. But if you have no cell service or the battery is dead, you can always rely on that map, that foundation, to be able to conduct the mission.”