Bragg troops to provide literacy training for Afghan forces
Posted April 15, 2011 12:50 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2011 1:25 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — An Army commander involved in training police forces in Afghanistan said Friday that Fort Bragg troops will participate in an intensive literacy program for Afghan police forces and military.
Two brigade combat teams from Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Headquarters Division will deploy to Afghanistan later this year.
Brig. Gen. Jefforey Smith, the assistant commanding general for the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, visited Fort Bragg on Friday to give troops an idea of what to expect during their deployment. He said the biggest challenge to working with Afghan security forces is that 86 percent of its members are illiterate and cannot read or write on a first-grade level.
"When you think of things we intuitively know – being able to read the serial number on your weapon or being able to count to 10 on your hands – these are basic skills that many of Afghan security forces can't meet," Smith said.
"If they can't write or read, it becomes very difficult without a lot of assistance," he said.
NATO plans to to turn over security completely to the Afghans by 2014, and Smith said Afghan forces will begin taking more of a leadership role in the country's security in the coming year.
The allied forces have launched an intensive literacy program for the Afghan forces to prepare them for the transition, he said. About 40,000 of the more than 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have already enrolled, he said.