PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Indiana National Guard Soldiers stationed here at Forward Operating Base Lightning, along with senior leaders from the Afghan National Army's 203rd Thunder Corps attended a conference at FOB Vulcan in Ghazni province on the development of the ANA's noncommissioned officer program, April 14.
The U.S. personnel and their 203rd Corps partners met with senior enlisted personnel from across the 203rd Corps to discuss ways to improve the ANA's NCO training program and address related issues, including unfilled NCO positions in the 203rd Corps and inefficiencies in the promotion process.
The conference began with the attendees discussing the importance of sending more Soldiers and NCOs to team and squad leader development courses, as well as increasing the availability of English and computer skills courses to Soldiers in the 203rd Corps.
"We have to plan carefully before conducting a mission. This starts with proper (NCO) training. Good training leads to successful missions," said ANA Col. Gul Hasan, the NCO personnel manager for the 203rd Corps.
Another topic brought to the forefront during the forum was the need to properly fill out promotion paperwork in a timely manner at all levels. All involved agreed that failure to complete this seemingly mundane task would have far-reaching negative consequences.
"We must do paperwork on time to get Soldiers to training. If we don't, then we can't train and we can't promote. With no promotions, we have unhappy Soldiers," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Brown, the command sergeant major for the Indiana National Guard's Regional Core Training Team 2, who spoke at the conference.
Those attending the conference also discussed ways to ensure that exceptional Soldiers are rewarded with expedient promotions to fill vacant NCO positions.
ANA Sgt. Maj. Mohammed Wazir, the personnel sergeant major for the 203rd Corps, announced plans to hold regular promotion boards as well as special boards to promote deserving Soldiers.
He said that promoting strong Soldiers and NCOs will provide a solid foundation for the future of the ANA.
"One day our officers will retire and our NATO partners will leave. As NCOs in our army, we need to think about the future," said Wazir.
Brown also spoke about the need to promote and retain good NCOs, not just for the future of the ANA but for the future of Afghanistan.
"If you don't like the Army, you have to stay in and change it to the Army you want it to be ... I see it in your eyes that you love this new army, this idea of a new Afghanistan. When you're old the young people will say, 'thank you,'" said Brown.