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Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr., is shown a weapon demonstration by Sgt. Louis Diaz, advisor trainer, ATG, during his visit to the Combat Center’s ATG compound Nov. 16.

Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Leo A. Salinas

I MEF Commanding General tours Combat Center ATG

23 Nov 2012 | Cpl. William J. Jackson

Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Jr., Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force, visited service members and civilian employees at the Combat Center’s Advisor Training Group compound Nov. 16.                            The visit was to showcase ATG’s capabilities and significance to the Marine Corps. ATG provides cultural awareness, medical training, weapons handling and language training to the service members deploying to Afghanistan who work with and train Afghan National Security Forces.

Toolan first stepped off to speak with a graduating class and answer questions about the Corps’ future and the ongoing efforts of Operation Enduring Freedom. He spoke about the importance of ATG’s mission.

“Stability will take hold in Afghanistan,” Toolan said to the Marines and British troops from a Regional Operations Coordination Center team from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. “You’ve got to have a long term view and most people don’t. You may not see the product or end state, but your kids will.”

Commander Michael Dreelan, United Kingdom liaison officer, OCC-R, British Royal Navy, and ATG student, said the training he experienced improved his outlook about working with the ANSF during his first deployment to Afghanistan.

“I can honestly say, from the bottom of my heart, that the team here has given me essential skills to ensure that I can deliver real effect on the ground in Afghanistan,” Dreelan said.

“The role players that you have here remained in role, the fact that they’re using the language and remain in that language throughout the period is second to none,” he explained to Toolan. “I’m [surprised] by the capability you’ve got here. I would wish to see that recreated back in the United Kingdom.”

Next, the official visitor found himself submerged in a Middle Eastern place setting for lunch, where class leaders discussed their thoughts on the training. Their in-depth discussion led them to a foreign weapons brief.

The knowledgeable instructors and weapons specialists had every bit of Toolan’s attention. With each weapon the instructors and Toolan handled, a discussion broke out. History, nomenclature and specifications of each weapon were brought to the table.

The 10 weapons in the class are standard military rifles, machine guns and mortars that students are trained to handle. Weapons instructors for ATG ensure that their students are up--to date with foreign weapons commonly found in country.

Before Toolan finished his tour, Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo Delattibodierr, hospital corpsman, showed him how life saving skills are taught to the students. ATG’s medical instructors train students with advanced equipment to simulate emergencies. Their equipment can simulate breathing problems and bleeding from an amputation.

“My thought is that the Afghan National Army would be happy to continue a relationship with the U.S.,” Toolan said about ATG’s training. “They understand that there are capabilities that they need as an armed force.”

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