SLTC-A attains new capability milestone
Canada transfers new facilities as important staff course transitions to Afghan lead
Publication date: 16 October 2012
By Captain Catherine Wollocombe
This story comes from Operation ATTENTION
Canadian Forces training advisors deployed in Kabul on Operation ATTENTION have carried out the final phase of the project known as the Staff and Language Training CentreAfghanistan (SLTC-A). On 13 October 2012, they formally transferred the SLTC-A facilities four buildings constructed or substantially renovated by Canada at a cost of about $9 million to the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
With the transfer of facilities, the SLTC-A project attained an important milestone. The Afghan National Army (ANA) is now responsible for all instruction for the Junior Officer Command and Staff Course (JOCSC) and the purpose-built facilities. These facilities are currently accommodating the JOCSC, the junior officer training program of the ANA Command and Staff College, which was launched by Canada in partnership with the ANA in 2008.
The SLTC project, conducted over five years, included the development and delivery of a staff course for ANA junior officers, and the construction of staff training facilities including an officers' training building, two new dormitories (one for men and one for women), a kitchen facility, and several support buildings.
A key building block of Afghan professional military education, the JOCSC focuses on providing junior officers of the ANA with leadership skills, and helps prepare senior captains and junior majors to plan and coordinate military operations, and to command soldiers in garrison and in the field. The course has two parts: Part 1, covering staff duties at kandak (battalion) level; and Part 2, covering staff work at the brigade, division, and corps levels. The practical program concentrates on map-reading, planning and decision-making skills, writing and delivering orders.
Canadian Forces training advisors serving at the ANA Command and Staff College advise and support the Afghan officers who teach the JOCSC. To date, Canada has invested about $5 million in course development, training, and support for the program, in addition to the cost of construction.
The combat-experienced Afghan instructors have been nothing but impressive over the last eight months," said Colonel Greg Smith, the Deputy Commander of the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION. "
They have shown very good tactical abilities and the developing culture of the professional officer, the staff has enthusiastically seized the transfer of infrastructure and responsibility for this staff college. The students have likewise shown their desire to become professional staff officers and leaders."
The SLTC-A was a Canadian-sponsored initiative announced by Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay on 26 August 2008. "
The Staff and Language Training Centre complements one of Canada's six priorities for our mission in Afghanistan," he said in his official statement, adding that, with help, the ANA would soon be able to satisfy its own training requirements. The project was conducted in close partnership with the ANA Command and Staff College, which provides the overarching institutional framework for officer professional development in the Afghan national security forces.
In 2009, Canadian Forces training advisors deployed under Operation ATHENA developed and delivered two serials of the JOCSC in partnership with the ANA. Those initial serials produced 59 ANA graduates. In February 2010, with the JOCSC program established and under way, the SLTC-A project expanded with the commitment by the Minster of National Defence of up to $12 million to build permanent training facilities. Construction began during the summer of 2010, and was completed by August 2011.
Major Martin Anderson, a reservist with 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment in London, Ontario, is the lead advisor for Part 2 of the JOCSC. At the beginning of his tour he evaluated the ANA staff to identify strengths and weaknesses and prepare himself for his advisory duties.
During the assessment period we recognized that the Afghan instructors and the overall planning and operations departments here at the college were capable of running the course themselves," said Maj Anderson. "
So we developed a program of gradually stepping back; allowing the ANA instructors to take the lead, which they have done over the course of the last six months."
Over the first two rotations of Operation ATTENTION (May 2011October 2012), six Canadian training advisors were assigned to the JOCSC. With the next rotation, the Canadian support will be reduced to two training advisors, keeping this project part of Canada's continuing engagement in Afghanistan.
The facilities transfer, coupled with the transition of instruction to complete Afghan control, is a distinct measure of success in the NATO training mission as the Canadian Forces continue to work towards increasing capacity in the Afghan national security forces. The Afghans now have a self-sustaining junior officer training institution that will allow them to go forward.
Col Smith offered a last word. "
Through the gates of SLTC-A march the future leaders of Afghanistan's national security forces," he said, "
increasingly ready to take responsibility for Afghanistan's future."
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