KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
Embedded training team Marines and sailors in eastern Afghanistan fill multiple roles while serving as mentors to the Afghan National Army.
From the senior officer to the junior enlisted Marine and sailor on the 20-man team, ETT 7-2 leathernecks take on jobs that go well beyond their military occupational specialties and job titles. The ETT was divided to mentor two ANA kandaks (Afghan battalions), which requires each team member to use all of his knowledge, skills and experience.
The team deployed to Afghanistan from Okinawa, Japan, and was assigned to mentor the 3rd and 5th Kandaks, 3rd Brigade, 201st ANA Corps. As teams of 10, each Marine and sailor needs to work with several ANA soldiers. The small teams work in remote locations, which means the Marines and sailors must count on each other to take care of all the team’s basic operational needs.
Three Marines and one sailor from one of the two groups work with the 3rd Kandak (Armored) headquarters at Forward Operating Base Naray.
“You just don’t always know what’s going to be next. You just have to use your experience and knowledge,” said Marine 1st Sgt. Matthew S. Seamans, 42-year-old Shorewood, Minn., native and senior enlisted mentor with ETT 7-2.
The team officer in charge, Marine Lt. Col. James F. Werth, a former intelligence battalion commander, sets the standard by mentoring the 3rd Kandak (Armored) commanding, intelligence, operations and executive officers. Werth also personally tends to several mandatory administrative reports and other paperwork of his own.
Seamans mentors the kandak sergeant major, and administration and logistics officers. He also spends time with flight arrangements, community construction projects as well as ANA and ETT budget issues. And if a Marine or sailor on his team needs a haircut, Seamans quickly becomes the ETT 7-2 barber.
“I can’t always be in three places at one time. What I have to do is rely on Sgt. (Will D.) Craig, doc and others,” Seamans said.
Craig, a 26-year-old Culleoka, Tenn., native, is the team communications chief. He also mentors the ANA communications officer, manages the ETT computers and operates an M2 .50 caliber machine gun from a Humvee turret.
“We’ve all had our time up in the turret and behind the wheel (of a Humvee),” Seamans added.
“Where else does a lieutenant colonel get to drive and gun? Where else does a first sergeant get to drive and gun?” Werth asked.
Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu, a 42-year-old hospital corpsman, mentors the ANA medical doctor and medic soldiers. He also ensures the ETT Marines have adequate medical care during their deployment and he regularly drives one of the Humvees.
The team is supported by two security forces soldiers, Army Cpl. Kelly A. Richardson of Columbia, S.C., and Spc. John W. Francisco of Akron, Ohio, who alternate roles as gunner and driver. Along with Craig and Datu, they also ensure the vehicles are maintained well on a weekly basis. Richardson and Francisco are deployed to Afghanistan with the South Carolina Army National Guard.
The many roles for each ETT mentor keep them occupied in garrison and in tactical situations, but the mentors take their roles in stride.
“The Marines and corpsmen just step up beyond their expectations,” said Seamans.