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Task Force Scorpion
Sgt. 1st. Class Charles Crouchman, 98th Division drill sergeant, demonstrates movement techniques during lanes training May 1 here. More than 400 Soldiers of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are now in the training pipeline to support the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo/Released)
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Task Force Scorpion in full training mode

Posted 5/5/2011   Updated 5/5/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by David Moore and Capt. Antonia Greene
174th Infantry Brigade Public Affairs Office


5/5/2011 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- More than 400 Soldiers of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are now in the training pipeline to support the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan.

Task Force Scorpion is scheduled to augment the NTM-A command in Kabul, assisting in advising, training, mentoring and coaching the Afghan National Security Forces across the country. TF Scorpion Soldiers will serve at the training academies, cultural centers and as members of embedded training teams.

Until now, only active duty forces were tasked with the NTM-A mission. TF Scorpion Soldiers are the first Reserve component forces to augment this mission. Training for the NTM-A mission previously was conducted at Fort Polk, La. The mission change also resulted in a change in training locations, from Fort Polk to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

TF Scorpion personnel have experienced some significant changes in the training battle rhythm since arriving at Dix, while revisiting tactics used to train military personnel. The Soldiers train extended hours in order to expand on the cultural and language skills necessary for mission success.

"When we arrive in theater we will be split up to meet the needs of the training mission," said Col. Paul Wegman, task force commander. "This team brings all the tools to the table and I have full confidence this will be a successful mission."

The commander wears the 98th Division "Iroquois" patch and continues that organization's history of training foreign soldiers in a deployed environment. Members of the 98th were the first institutional training division in 2004 to deploy to Iraq and establish standards for subsequent Reserve units training a foreign army. At the same time, the Division fielded a detachment of Soldiers to Afghanistan to assist with training cadets for that country's National Military Academy.

The task force is comprised of officers and senior noncommissioned officers, many will serve as mentor trainers. Each person in the task force was picked based on rank and skills to meet a specific need for the mission. The Soldiers who will train the Afghan soldiers have backgrounds in combat support, combat service support and combat arms. The task force includes drill sergeant instructors slated for the academy mission and special skills trainers and forward operators to assist in the mentoring mission. Many personnel on this rotation into Afghanistan will train the best of the Afghan army and police to be in-house instructors for the ANSF.

"Developing leaders is what I do," said Sgt. 1st. Class Charles Crouchman, 98th Division drill sergeant. "I'm taking it upon myself and have all the confidence in the men beside me to grow the ANSF and maintain enduring training academies."

There are also personnel such as administrators, logisticians and truck drivers who will support the day-to-day operations of TF Scorpion and the NTM-A.

"I'm a unit supply sergeant, but regardless of what I do every day, we are all there for the same reason - to help enable accountable Afghan-led security and stability," said Army Sgt. Edward Machinski, 98th Division supply sergeant.

NATO and the ANSF have been working together more closely to prepare Afghan personnel to start taking responsibility for their country's national defense and security later this year. The United States has pledged to start the transition this summer, with a goal of completing the process by 2014 to allow international combat troops to return home. The NTM-A motto is "Team-Transparency-Transition."

Lt. Col. William McLaen, a former First Army battalion commander stationed at Dix, bears the 98th Division patch, as well. No stranger to the training mission, this will be his fourth deployment and his third tour to Afghanistan. During his last tour, he served with Civil Affairs as part of NATO's reconstruction effort. The Desert Storm veteran said this mission will be different for him.

"The additional cultural training and language skills are generally more than I received in previous deployments," he said. "The foreign weapons classes are more extensive."
McLaen explained during each Afghanistan deployment he has seen a change for the better.

"Between 2002 and 2004, warlords were serving as the power base. After that, it seemed the provincial government was taking charge," he said. "The theory is when our Army leaves, the Afghans replicate what we do now."

NTM-A training classes are scheduled to continue mobilization preparation at JB MDL well into the summer months. While these groups are still training stateside, TF Scorpion Soldiers will have already begun the essential mission of training our Afghan partners, accelerating progress and building sustainable ANSF institutions.



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