Long after the withdrawal
forces from Afghanistan
ends, the effect
the United States has had
on the country will still be
significant. The world will
measure the United States
and its Army by the legacy
left behind, good or bad. Afghanistan
presents a world
of opportunity for Army
logistics. This includes the
opportunity not only to train
and assist in building the
Afghanistan National Army
(ANA) to take over but also
to teach and mentor the
Afghans in basic logistics
principles and discipline.
|Soldiers show Afghan personnel how to fill out supply forms.
I first deployed in support
of Operation Enduring
Freedom VI as a wheeled
vehicle mechanic. Although
I was happy in my work, I
felt that I was not having
the direct impact that I had
imagined during predeployment
training. Then Sergeant First Class Louis Steinke,
my platoon sergeant, became the local representative for
Operation Crayon. Through this program, I was able to
travel to various places around northern Afghanistan and
deliver school supplies and basic hygiene items to the
Afghan people. However, despite delivering thousands
of pounds of supplies, I felt as though I was missing
On 4 July 2010, General David Petraeus said, "To
our Afghan partners: We will do all that we can to help
you build a country free of the fear of the Taliban and
Al Qaeda, a country in which all citizens can live in
peace with one another and provide for themselves and
their families." He also mentioned working shoulder to
shoulder, or "shona ba shona" in the Dari language, with
our Afghan partners.
During my second deployment to Afghanistan, this
time as the operations officer in a modular Quartermaster
company, I figured out what had been missing from my
first deployment experience. The 240th Quartermaster
Supply Company was doctrinally structured to provide
support to nondivisional units within the area of operations,
including routine operations such as running a
supply support activity (SSA), class I (subsistence)
operations, class III (petroleum, oils, and lubricants)
operations, and a water purification platoon.
As is generally the case with logistics
units in this asymmetric conflict,
we found ourselves adapting to the
current mission and taking on nontraditional
roles. One of those roles,
supporting the Afghanistan National
Security Forces (ASNF) partnership
training, brought the company to embrace
the shona ba shona mentality.
Directed from higher echelons and
supported by the 129th Combat Sustainment
Support Battalion (our higher
headquarters), the company took on a
variety of missions supporting ASNF partnership training.
|A Soldier teaches an Afghan National Army soldier how to check the oil level in his vehicle.
In one location, we had Soldiers conducting a driver's
training course for an ANA logistics unit. What started
initially as a one-time train-the-trainer class transformed
into a flourishing training academy.
In another case, Army logistics Soldiers skilled in
materials-handling equipment (MHE) trained their
Afghan counterparts in all aspects of an MHE operation.
The Soldiers taught the Afghan trainees proper preventive
maintenance checks and services and the importance
of taking care of their equipment. Every day, the Soldiers
came prepared to cover important topics ranging
from proper ground-guiding procedures and safe forklift
operations to loading pallets of supplies onto trucks for
In another location, the company's automated logistical
specialists (military occupational specialty 92A)
taught, coached, and mentored the Afghanistan National
Police at one of their provincial supply points. Our
Soldiers recognized the Afghan forces' need to establish
a command supply discipline program that enabled the
Afghan Police to have accurate inventories and historical
records in order to see trends and plan ahead for future
The 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion also
helped the Afghan National Police to implement a trusted
agent program in which each element that was supported
by the supply point designated a trusted agent who was
responsible for all transactions. This program aided U.S.
Soldiers in identifying Afghan personnel involved in the
supply chain and training them in supply principles.
Lastly, the company had the opportunity to send two
representatives to be part of an operational mentor and
liaison team for an ANA logistics battalion. The two
senior leaders were assigned to mentor the battalion S–3
and S–4 sections. They helped the battalion to draw all
of its organizational equipment and taught its soldiers
hand receipt procedures and the principles of property
accountability. The two mentors also conducted classes
on the military decisionmaking process for the ANA battalion's
senior officers and trained the junior officers in
The ANA battalion successfully completed its training,
deployed to its area of responsibility and is providing
first-class logistics support to ANA forces.
The lasting impact of our efforts was the puzzle piece
missing from my first deployment to Afghanistan. Undoubtedly,
the supplies that I helped to distribute during
that first deployment helped children with their education
or provided basic necessities, but for how long?
The training in basic logistics functions and principles
that the 240th Quartermaster Supply Company gave to
Afghan forces will be used and passed down to other
Afghan soldiers long after we are gone. Essentially, we
have provided the ANA with an opportunity to become
self-sufficient in providing seamless and professional
logistics—the cornerstone for any military organization.
From water purification to property accountability
and stewardship, Army logisticians have a vast range of
training opportunities to offer the Afghanistan National
Army. From my experience, the Afghan soldiers have
been receptive and eager to learn but only from Soldiers
who are genuine and sincere in their training efforts.
I believe the Army has so many excellent logistics
programs that could benefit the ANA. It remains to be
seen how many of us are willing to work shona ba shona
to make it happen.