Retired Army Major To Help Rebuild Afghan Army

Tuesday, February 6th 2007, 10:27 am
By: News On 6

A retired army officer from Pryor is about to embark on a new mission. This time he's answering the call to duty as a civilian, bringing his decades of military experience to the Afghan National Army in the hopes of helping that nation strengthen its government.
The News on 6’s Heather Lewin reports on why he'll be so missed here at home.

"I've always been enthralled by the country of Afghanistan," said retired U.S. Army Major Steve Tunnell.

Now the retired Army Major has a chance to help shape that nation's future, by training its forces for the battlefield.

"Leadership, weapons, doctrine, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, map reading," he said.

Tunnell will be working for the U.S. government, training officers of the Afghan National Army.

"While they are a very strong, independent and fierce fighting force we're just helping them modernize and adopt some of the doctrine that the U.S. forces currently operate with," Tunnell said.

Although it will be his first such trip as a civilian, Major Tunnell is eager to start his new mission. He says the toughest part is what he'll be leaving behind. Tunnell is retiring as director of the Thunderbird Youth Academy in Pryor, a military-style school for troubled teens.

"The six years that I've spent here have been more so enjoyable than my 28 years in the Army," said Tunnell. "Seeing the transformation of the young man or the young woman that comes in on day one, then at graduation 154 days later, they're so full of pride and self-esteem and confidence."

But 75-percent of the academy's staff has been recently deployed, and with the Taliban still operating in Afghanistan, experience like Tunnell's is in demand. He says even if his presence makes only a minor impact, it's a great opportunity.

"I just want to go help," he said.

Tunnell leaves in a couple of weeks and will be based in Kabul for a year. He's very modest about his military career, instead the accomplishment he's currently most proud of is the Thunderbird Academy being named the number one program of its kind in the country.