By Bill Good
Crawl, Walk, Run: That simple phrase is the common refrain heard in U.S. Army training facilities throughout the world. This approach forces new Soldiers to focus on the basics before moving onto more advanced techniques. In Afghanistan, that same training principle is being applied at the recently opened Afghan National Army (ANA) Armor Branch School.
In March, the ANA will take possession of the first 58 of 352 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFV) to enhance their quick reaction and Mobile Strike Force (MSF) capabilities. These vehicles represent the first kandak, or battalion, size element of armored vehicles for the ANA. This capability will be critical when U.S. forces begin their drawdown.
Nonetheless, before the MSFVs can be put into the fight, the drivers must be trained to operate, use, and maintain the vehicles. Those training sessions began in December 2011 with the first Train the Instructor class (T2I).
“The initial Train the Instructor course was a huge success. It developed confidence, built relationships, and enabled us to fully understand the challenges associated with conducting training across multiple languages and cultures,” said MAJ Patrick McFall, the Forward-Deployed Representative from Product Manager Armored Security Vehicle (PM ASV). “The success of this training regime is directly attributed to the hard work and determination of the entire team.”
The MSF, managed by PM ASV, falls under the leadership of Project Manager Joint Combat Support Systems (PM JCSS) within the Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
The U.S. Army’s Maneuver Support Center of Excellence (MSCoE) plays a critical role by leading the T2I effort, which is a combined effort of MSCoE, the French Armor Branch School, the ANA Armor Branch School, PM ASV, and Textron Marine and Land Systems. PM ASV has been actively working with the Combined Security Training Command-Afghanistan to provide a complete fielding, training, and long-term sustainment program for the five newly organized ANA kandaks.
The inaugural class was attended by 71 Afghan instructors, who will form the initial training force for the ANA Armor Branch School. “The final event of the training was a live-fire exercise designed to test the knowledge acquired by the ANA instructors and to promote confidence within their ranks,” said COL William Boruff, PM JCSS.
“As the ANA instructors initially approached the vehicle with ammunition in their arms, their faces were apprehensive. They didn’t know what to expect. As they entered the turret, loaded the rounds, and fired the weapon systems, you could see their confidence build with each engagement,” said McFall.
The MSFV being fielded to the ANA is an updated version of the ASV, a platform that has more than four decades of proven performance. The modifications on the MSFV allow for additional protection while still using commercial-off-the-shelf parts. The MSFV family consists of three variants, each designed to meet a specific combat role and enhance the ANA MSF capability. The variants include an Armored Personnel Carrier with Gunner’s Protective Kit, an Armored Personnel Carrier with Turret, and an Armored Ambulance.
“The MSFV provides each MSF kandak, with a rapidly deployable, highly mobile armored capability that can quickly maneuver in an all-terrain environment, while concurrently providing the ANA with sufficient firepower to conduct a wide variety of operational missions over an extended range and distance,” said CPT Joseph Denning, in the PM ASV office.
- BILL GOOD is the Operations Officer for PM ASV. He holds an M.A. in public relations and organizational communication from Wayne State University.