Auto shop and understanding

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 20:00
Vehicle repair course helps build cooperation
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. Army Pfc. Eric Grzegorczyk, from Pittsburgh, Penn., a mechanic with the maintenance platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, supervises Muhammad Abid, a member of the Afghan Border Police, during a preventative maintenance, checks and services class on Forward Operating Base Gardez Feb. 19.

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Afghan Border Police and Afghan Uniformed Police from all areas of Regional Command-East have been coming to Forward Operating Base Gardez to learn how to work on vehicles and, more importantly, with each other, at a class taught by the U.S. soldiers of the Maintenance Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Spartan.

The course is just one more example of how U.S. forces are helping the different Afghan National Security Forces to work with each other.

The AUP and ABP do not have a stellar record of communicating with each other, so the U.S. Soldier-teachers have made it mandatory for classes to combine students from each organization.

“The way we do it is we intermingle the different kandaks into the different groups, and that way everybody has to work together,” said Sgt. Benjamin Nunez, from Anchorage, Alaska, the primary preventative maintenance, checks and services instructor for the program. “The first day we split them up into groups and then we let them sit together for 20 minutes and get to know each other before we begin the instruction.”

The month-long course teaches the Afghan lawmen basic PMCS, maintenance and repair skills, as well as how to use wreckers and cranes to recover broken vehicles.

“The main mission is not to make them expert mechanics, but to teach them the basics, to get them in there and let them see how to do small trouble shooting,” said Nunez. “That way they can get back out to their kandaks and do a lot of the preventative maintenance without having to go to the nearest U.S. base.”

“They’re definitely very interested in it,” said Pfc. Eric Grzegorczyk, who is from Pittsburgh, Penn., and is the ABP maintenance apprenticeship class instructor. “They learn a lot – they’re all very curious and they all work together.”

Strained relations that may exist outside the FOB between the two groups are not evident in the classroom, said Grzegorczyk.

“Whenever we start a new thing they all gather around and talk among themselves. I haven’t seen any tension between the groups,” added Grzegorczyk.

“Everything is going very well here,” said Sgt. Mojahad, a platoon leader in an ABP Quick Reaction Force who was taking the class. “We’re getting better day-by-day. I am hopeful that all kandaks will become competent in these skills, because when we stand on our own feet, it helps our country.”

The patriotic spirit present in the class is encouraging, said Mojahad, expressing his hope that the microcosm of this auto mechanic class could soon reflect the partnership between Afghan National Security Forces across the nation.

“We are brothers, as you can see,” said Mojahad. “One target, one goal.”

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