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Recruiting and Retention in Afghanistan

The Army Recruiting and Retention School recently trained a recruiting advisor team
so that it could better assist the Afghan National Security Forces with their recruiting missions.

The need to grow the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) has taken center stage once again in Afghanistan. In preparation for the 2014 departure of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, Afghanistan's government has focused its efforts on increasing its number of soldiers and police officers. Personnel assigned to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan CJ–1's recruiting advisor team (RAT) are assisting the ANSF as it attempts to recruit more volunteers and recontract a higher percentage of its eligible personnel to meet the ANSF's growth goals.

Spartan Field Kitchen
Afghan National Police (ANP) Basic Recruiting Course students attend class at the ANP 606 Zone Headquarters in Herat, Afghanistan.

The RAT's Mission in Afghanistan

The RAT's mission to advise and assist the fledgling ANSF recruiting and re-contracting directorates has evolved and expanded over the years. Initially, the RAT focused its energy on Afghan National Army (ANA) recruiting efforts. As the ANA Recruiting Directorate began to mature, RAT personnel widened their efforts to include the Afghan National Police (ANP) Recruiting Directorate. Now, with both recruiting directorates in full operation, the RAT has expanded its advising duties to include the ANA and ANP Re-contracting Directorates.

With the ANSF Recruiting and Re-contracting Directorates quickly growing in size and responsibilities, U.S. Navy Commander Katherine McCabe, the RAT officer-in-charge, and Sergeant Major Jeffrey Ingram, the RAT noncommissioned officer-in-charge, found themselves at a crossroads. Although they were excited to see the directorates growing in size and capabilities, both were concerned about the effectiveness of training received by recruiting and re-contracting personnel throughout Afghanistan. During visits to outlying provincial recruiting stations, RAT members began to find discrepancies in how local recruiters were enlisting recruits.

Recruiting and Retention School Assistance

Because of a need to develop and deliver training on ANSF policies and regulations to a large number of recruiting and re-contracting personnel, Commander McCabe and Sergeant Major Ingram contacted Colonel James Comish, the commandant of the Army Recruiting and Retention School (RRS), for assistance. Commander McCabe explained that training materials and a mobile training team from RRS would "exponentially increase [the RAT's] ability to support the ANSF recruiting commands and re-contracting office . . . because it brings in more expertise and a focused effort for 4 weeks." The RRS commandant agreed.

After several weeks of coordination and needs analysis, RRS personnel developed three courses and six personnel were selected to instruct these courses. The three courses were the Basic Afghan Recruiter Course, Afghan Basic Re-Contracting Course, and Afghan Master Trainer Course. The six selected personnel were Major Moore, Sergeant Major Jones, Sergeant First Class Graves, Sergeant First Class Kaplan, Sergeant First Class Kelly, and Sergeant First Class Rhodes.

The RRS instructors linked up with Commander McCabe and her advisers at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, in January 2011 and discussed the final details of their training mission. They agreed that, to train as many ANSF personnel as possible, the team would separate into three 2-person instructor teams. With supporting RAT personnel, each team focused its efforts on a particular ANSF recruiting or re-contracting directorate at different locations throughout Afghanistan.

The Instructor's Assignments

Sergeant Major Jones and Sergeant First Class Kaplan split their time between training ANA re-contractors to become master trainers, visiting ANA and ANP re-contracting offices, and reviewing ANSF re-contracting policies. During their first 2 weeks, they trained and certified over 40 ANA re-contractors as master trainers. They spent the remainder of their time at the re-contracting offices at the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior to observe each ministry's re-contracting process.

Based on their observations and discussions with each ministry's re-contracting personnel, the instructors presented recommendations ranging from sustainment training to policy updates to improve ANSF re-contracting processes.

Sergeant First Class Graves and Sergeant First Class Rhodes focused their efforts on training ANA recruiters to become master trainers. During their time with the ANA Recruiting Directorate, they quickly gained the ANA soldiers' trust and admiration. After they completed their originally scheduled Afghan Master Trainer Course, they were asked to conduct a second course for additional ANA recruiters.

Despite the challenges of securing a second training site and organizing the transportation of ANA recruiters from outlying provinces, and despite being exasperated by inclement weather, this team conducted a second Afghan Master Trainer Course, much to the gratitude of the ANA Recruiting Directorate. Because of their hard work and flexibility, they trained and certified nearly 60 ANA recruiting master trainers.

Major Moore and Sergeant First Class Kelly con-centrated their time on ANP recruiting. They began by instructing the Afghan Basic Recruiter Course to a class of more than 40 ANP recruiters from the Kabul area. Of those ANP recruiters, more than 30 were trained to become master trainers. Once the Afghan Master Trainer Course was completed, four graduates were selected to travel with Major Moore and Sergeant First Class Kelly from Kabul to Herat to teach the Afghan Basic Recruiter Course to 40 ANP recruiters from western Afghanistan.

Major Moore and Sergeant First Class Kelly also reviewed and discussed ANP recruiting policies with Colonel Amed Zia, the ANP recruiting policy director. After several days of review and discussion, they worked with the director to update previous ANP recruiting policy and developed an ANP recruiting policy covering the duties and responsibilities of ANP recruiting personnel from local recruiters to the ANP recruiting director.

As the RRS mobile training team prepared to de-part Afghanistan, Commander McCabe and Sergeant Major Ingram explained that the future of the ANSF recruiting and re-contracting directorates was very bright. With their newly trained master trainers, each directorate now has the capability to train recruiters and re-contractors locally. This gives local recruiting and re-contracting leaders the flexibility to train their personnel often and on issues facing local areas.

Just as important, Sergeant Major Ingram stated that five master trainers from each directorate will teach at the ANSF Human Resources School. With master trainers at local levels and at the centralized Human Resources School, the ANSF recruiting and re-contracting directorates are on their way to transforming their organizations into professional units capable of meeting their nation's need for a larger security force.

Major Christopher Moore is currently attending Intermediate level Education at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has a bachelor's degree from Western Kentucky University and a master's degree in human resources development from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Adjutant General Officer Basic Course, Adjutant General Captains Career Course, Staff and Faculty Development Training Course, Recruiting Company Commander Course, and Postal Operations Course.

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