Starting a Combat Engineer School for the Afghan National Army

Sergeant Stewart Plummer of 21 Engineer Regiment (21 Engr Regt) writes about the challenges of passing on all his engineer skills to Afghan National Army soldiers.

Sergeant Stewart Plummer

Sergeant Stewart Plummer

For Operation HERRICK 12 I have been attached to 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1SCOTS), who have formed 3/215 Brigade Advisor Group, which was formerly known as the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team Battle Group (OMLT BG). The Advisor Group works closely with the Afghan National Army (ANA), advising and training them in all military functions.

When I heard that I was going to be doing this I was at first a little apprehensive, because of reports that previous engineer units had been used as infantry soldiers rather than in their primary role, as engineers. However, once we arrived in theatre we soon found out that this tour was going to be a little different.

When we had completed our handover/takeover, I discovered that I would be employed as the Training Sergeant, to which I replied “What does that entail?”  Well, I soon got my answer.  The plan was to run a basic Combat Engineer Course for the ANA Engineers. This would enable them to be able to partner the Joint Force Engineers on tasks within Helmand Province. So with this in mind I set about planning the course with the ANA.

After a few disagreements we settled on the course content and started  organising stores and equipment.

British Army Engineers pictured with their Afghan National Army students, holding certificates

British Army Engineers pictured with their Afghan National Army students, holding certificates

Whilst all this planning was going on we had a 4-man team deployed in a patrol base advising the team of ANA Engineers there, which they had deployed with, how to enhance the existing set-up.

While the team was away it was decided that the soldiers they had with them would be given their certificates to denote that they were qualified engineers.

There were big smiles all round.