CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Joint Sustainment Academy Southwest aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Sept. 20, to witness first-hand the ongoing training of Afghan National Security Forces.
Mabus walked through several classes with Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest, and Maj. Andrew V. Martinez the academy’s director.
“The literacy training but also the specific schools that they go through [have] very high standards and very high enthusiasm,” said Mabus. “I think that what it does is get us on a road as we draw down our combat capabilities, they're going to be there in place with the skills, with the training ready to do what they need to do to keep a stable Afghanistan.”
The secretary also observed Afghan police and soldiers practicing counter-improvised explosive device training on the JSAS compound.
“These are life or death skills in a lot of cases and the impressive thing about this is how broad the training is,” Mabus said.
JSAS specializes in teaching advanced combat skills to Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan Uniformed Police who already have basic knowledge in military skills. Certain courses even train Afghans to become instructors back at their parent units.
According to Martinez, the Academy is different from other training centers in Afghanistan in that it is a joint training facility for both Afghan soldiers and police. In addition, all of the Marine Corps instructors live on the compound with the Afghan staff and students.
“We eat, live, train and sleep with the Afghan students,” Martinez explained.
JSAS also teaches vocational skills, giving students skills that can be utilized outside of their military careers. The idea is that fielding a military with civilian skills will help add stability to the country in the future.
After visiting JSAS, Mabus commented on the success of Marines and sailors in Helmand province and thanked them for their service.
“The fact that we're able to do this, the fact that our Marines are able to have this sort of success speaks volumes about the Marine skill level, dedication level, patriotism level and their willingness to commit to something bigger than themselves,” he said. “Ooh-rah Marines, you're doing a great job here.”