Soldiers Teach Afghans How to Tell Their Story

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army public affairs soldiers are partnering with U.S. Soldiers here to learn valuable skills to tell the story of their burgeoning independence.

A public affairs team from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Stewart, Ga., began visiting the Afghan National Army's, or ANA's, Kandahar Air Wing Public Affairs Office about six weeks ago, said Sgt. Luke D. Rollins, a native of Niskayuna, N.Y.

He visits the office approximately once a week, for an hour or two, and concentrates on only one topic at a time, he said.

"Last time we were here we focused mainly on writing. What elements are needed for a lead?" he asked his counterparts during a visit Jan. 26.

ANA Staff Sgt. Habibullah correctly recounted the six elements that should be written early into a news story - who, what, where, when, why and how.

Rollins said he has a wide range of subjects to cover and only a little time on each visit. Therefore, he varies the classes between writing, taking still pictures and shooting video.

"When we got here we had no idea how to do these things," said ANA Staff Sgt. Abdul Khaq. "Now we are able to use the computer and cameras. They are always willing to show us."

In the ANA, soldiers do not pick career fields, they are assigned.

"The military assigned us to this," Habibullah said. "We are happy about what we do. Every day we learn something new. Of course we look forward to them coming here. We need them."

Staff Sgt. Charles Robertson, a broadcast journalist with the 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, of Jackson, Miss., joined the effort Jan. 26, and taught the two NCOs the basics of videography.

"I thought they were very receptive," said Robertson, a Starkville, Miss., native. "They enjoyed the visit and you could tell they were learning. I really think they enjoy doing their job and they're very willing to learn."

It's important for the Afghan public affairs to become skilled quickly, Robertson said. Their mission is no different from his except for the audience. While American military public affairs units tell the story of our military's operations here to move Afghanistan toward independence, the Afghan team must tell the native population of its government's efforts.

"They need to communicate with their public the way we do," Robertson said. "They also have stories to tell."

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