Univer­sity stu­dents, pro­fes­sors help pre­pare National Guard mem­bers

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Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By Dave Har­mon AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN STAFF

When three National Guard mem­bers knocked on the door, it opened a crack, then slammed in their faces. The women of the house weren’t prop­erly cov­ered, so a male rel­a­tive went to find out what the three uni­formed Amer­i­cans wanted.

Af­ter a minute of chat­ter at the door, Jeremy Couch, Chris Yauger and Jen­nifer Pozzi filed in with their in­ter­preter, hop­ing the fam­ily could help them find some es­caped pris­on­ers thought to be in the area. But the men in this Afghan fam­ily only wanted to talk about the lack of se­cu­rity in their vil­lage and a rash of live­stock thefts. See more pho­tos from the train­ing pro­gram with this story online.

“We want to know if you’ve seen any­thing, if you’ve heard any­thing,” Couch told the Afghan men, ig­nor­ing a stack of cash and two mil­i­tary ri­fles nearby.

The con­ver­sa­tion on Sun­day was staged, and the Afghan home was ac­tu­ally a room in an empty build­ing at Camp Mabry.

But the peo­ple in uni­form were real, and they were hop­ing that Sun­day’s role-play­ing ex­er­cise will help them when they de­ploy to Afghanistan some­time in the next year.

The fam­ily was played by a group of Univer­sity of Texas stu­dents, and the in­ter­preter was Chris­tian Glakas, a con­tract writer for the as­so­ci­ate dean of UT’S Col­lege of Lib­eral Arts.

Fac­ulty from UT’S Cen­ter for Mid­dle East­ern Stud­ies and Afghan ex­perts from Ohio State Univer­sity’s Mid­dle East Stud­ies Cen­ter gave about 20 National Guard mem­bers an in­ten­sive three-day im­mer­sion in Afghan his­tory, lan­guage and cus­toms over the week­end.

It was the first time UT fac­ulty had of­fered the train­ing, which was paid for through a grant from the National Se­cu­rity Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram. Guard mem­bers nor­mally have to fly to Cali-

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