Under the watchful eye of their instructor, three Afghan National Army (ANA) non-commissioned officers (NCOs) stand hunched over a grid with their protractors, graphics templates and markers.
Winston Clough, DynCorp International advisor/mentor on the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) program, observes their progress from across the room. The scene is a course at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), the ANA’s premier facility for training.
Clough, known as a no-nonsense instructor, has helped develop the course into what it is today.
Improving the Battle Staff Training Course
Before he joined DI, Clough served as Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army’s Fifth Special Forces Group. After obtaining a degree in history with a minor in political science, he was a teacher.
It was this combination of military training and teaching experience that led to his eventual return to Afghanistan.
“I left the teaching profession when one of my former group commanders called me” Clough recalls. Clough’s former commander, who was at the time working for DynCorp International, told him about work the Company was doing to support training efforts in Afghanistan and asked him to come on board.
Clough and his DI colleagues, their Afghan counterparts and the Company’s customer, the Department of Defense, all worked together to improve the program, increasing its impact, resulting in a higher graduation rate of Afghan trainees.
“Our graduation rate varies, but generally it’s over 90 percent,” said Clough.
Course requirements include being able to coordinate terrain features and measure map distances on grids.
“We train our students in how to construct overlays, adjoin map sheets and how to give military briefings. By the end of the course, they can construct a terrain model, and we have them brief the training model that they created. Finally, in the past year, we’ve added troop leading procedures and the military decision-making process, which is a very complex subject for soldiers in any Army. Our students do remarkably well.”
Training Successful Officers
One of the course’s Afghan graduates recently reported on the practical and useful knowledge he gained from the course. When he went back into the field, he overheard his officers discussing a problem that had stymied them, and knew he could help with his newfound knowledge. The graduate was able to bring to his team a new level of problem solving and, thanks to the knowledge gained in the course, he was promoted on the spot.