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Iron Horse Strong — ISAF Soldiers teach ANA public affairs

Photo by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer. Staff Sgt. Jose Ibarra, broadcast journalist with 2nd Cavalry Regiment at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, discusses video editing software with soldiers of the Afghan National Army during a training exercise at KAF, Nov. 12.

By Sgt. Antony Lee

International Security Assistance Force, Regional Command-South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Seven Afghan soldiers with the 205th Hero Corps, Afghan National Army, recently completed a public affairs training course at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, provided by the Regional Command-South Public Affairs Office.

The training was facilitated by the 4th Infantry Division and covered various skills the Afghan soldiers can use to tell the ANA’s story. Social media, photojournalism, broadcast journalism, video editing and print news stories were among the topics taught during the course, which took place Nov. 11-13.

Master Sgt. Craig Zentkovich, noncommissioned officer in charge, RC-S public affairs, said the training was a “basic” course for the ANA public affairs soldiers.

“It allows us to establish a baseline in order to conduct later advanced training,” he said. “But most importantly, it is an opportunity to work with and engage our Afghan partners.”

Zentkovich said that as Afghan troops continue to take the lead with the security of Afghanistan, “it’s imperative that we show them how to effectively communicate with Afghans.

“One of the most important aspects to this training is introducing them to social media and showing them how they can use that to spread the word about ANA successes,” he said.

Sgt. Eric Glassey, public affairs operations NCO who manages various RCS social media outlets, spent the final day of the training introducing ANA soldiers to Facebook.

“We helped them create two official Facebook pages for the 205th Hero Corps — one in Dari and the other in Pashto,” Glassey said. “This allows them to reach the majority of people in Afghanistan. Social media gives the ANA another tool to interact with the people they serve.”

Sgt. Baheg Shakrullah, photo­grapher in the 205th Hero Corps, said the training provided “useful information,” specifically learning how to create video products and how to take photos.

“If something important is happening, such as an achievement in the battlefield, we can make a video about it and the people gain awareness of what we are doing,” Shakrullah said.

1st Sgt. Mohammad Saber, 205th Hero Corps, spoke about the strategic significance of public affairs.

“Public affairs is important because we publish news to the media,” he said. “For example, if something happens and enemies of Afghanistan have been captured or killed, we can present it to the media to tell the rest of the people.”

Saber said he was “happy” for the opportunity to learn and that he and his fellow ANA public affairs soldiers have learned a lot about how to communicate effectively.

At the end of the training, Lt. Col. M. Mohsin “Sultani,” head of the 205th’s Hero Corps press office, thanked the RCS public affairs team on behalf of Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid, 205th Hero Corps commander.

“We hope this relationship will continue,” he said.

His International Security Assistance Force counterpart, Lt. Col. Armando Hernandez, RCS chief public affairs officer, said the training was the best experience the 4th Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office has had in Afghanistan.

“You, like us, tell the story of the Afghan soldier to the Afghan people,” he said, addressing the 205th Hero Corps soldiers. “And the people will see — because of your pictures, videos and information — that the army is sacrificing for Afghanistan and for a better future.”

The public affairs training was the first of its kind — in which ANA soldiers came to KAF to train with their ISAF counterparts — since 2010.

“The training hasn’t been simple dictation — it has been interactive,” Zentkovich said. “We’ve bounced ideas off of them as they have done with us, and we’re all learning … from each other.”

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