Bodmin officer given key role with Afghan troops
AN RAF officer from Bodmin has been put in charge of the first battle school to train Afghan troops to become effective soldiers.
The Regional Corps Battle School (RCBS) will work from the Afghan National Army's Camp Shorabak in Camp Bastion to train 2,700 Afghan soldiers a year.
The officer in charge of the school is Wing Commander James Penelhum, of the RAF Police, who hails from Bodmin.
Soldiers from 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (4 SCOTS) have deployed to take the lead in training and mentoring Afghan National Army (ANA) troops at the newly-established battle school.
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Wing Commander James Penelhum, said: "The concept is to deliver a sustainable training institution for 215 corps of the Afghan National Army, which is the element of the ANA that operates in Helmand province.
"The school has just opened and we have seven infantry courses and ten combat service support courses running.
"That means things like food services, combat transport and weapons maintenance."
The battle school is seen as a test model for the rest of the country.
Wing Commander Penelhum, who is 46, said: "Over the next couple of months, we're receiving a lot of visits from other regional headquarters and other Afghan officers from other corps, who are coming to see how this has been set up and identifying lessons.
"The hope for the future is that we do truly deliver a sustainable training institution here, that the Afghans do make the investment, they provide the instructors to be developed by us so that we can hand on something that is delivered to Afghan soldiers by Afghan soldiers.''
The RCBS will be manned by around 100 ANA personnel assisted by an Isaf advisory team.
Infantry courses include schooling in reconnaissance, heavy machine guns, mortars and anti-tank weapons.