Commandos Train for Afghanistan’s Future

Source:  ISAF Joint Command Public Affairs

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle

KABUL, Afghanistan – As the sun rose over the mountains near Camp Morehead, 922 Afghan National Army soldiers donned their new red berets and stepped into the ranks of Afghanistan’s elite commando unit. The occasion: a graduation ceremony marking the successful completion of a 12-week training course.

CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan -- Afghan commandos stand in formation during the graduation of the 7th Commando Kandak Jan. 21. The commandos were trained by Afghan instructors and mentored by U.S., French, Canadian, Jordanian and United Arab Emirates special operations forces to provide a rapidly deployable light infantry unit to the Afghan National Security Force.

“The training was very good,” said Afghan Capt. Ajibullah, one of the graduates. “It was very professional and we trained to a high standard.” The graduates now make up the 7th Commando Kandak, and like the six other units already stationed in different parts of the country, they will be placed to provide the Afghan National Security Force with a light infantry unit capable of being rapidly deployed to conduct raids and strikes against insurgents.

An Afghan soldier is awarded a medal by Gen. Bismullah Mohammadi, Afghanistan's Chief of the General Staff, Jan 21. The medal was presented to the Soldier for stopping an insurgent with a suicide vest before the device detonated during the Jan. 18 attacks in Kabul.

The course is taught by Afghan instructors, who are also commandos. Special operations forces from the United States, Canada, France, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates provide mentorship and guidance to assist with the training.

“Part of that special mentorship and special bond is that, while we have special forces here, they know we will partner with them, and when they go out into the field into combat, we will be brothers-in-arms,” said U.S. Army Maj. Jeffery James, the officer in charge of the mentorship program for the training.

The training is designed to not only provide a special forces capability to the Afghan National Army but to completely integrate it into the ANA. The Afghan Transportation Corps was present to move the graduates after the ceremony, and an Afghan signal unit helped provide communication. The Afghan National Army Air Corps has also worked with the commandos in offensive operations.

“We have learned many things,” said Abdul Basir Masoud, the religious officer for the class. “We’ve learned tactics – stuff that’s very important, such as ambushes, cordons and searching, raids and also lessons in maps. These are all very necessary.”

“My goal is to serve the country of Afghanistan, and serve Islam,” said Afghan Sgt. Taj Mohammed, another of the 7th Kandak’s graduates. The Commando Program was created in September 2006. Since then it has held a very high retention rate, with 98 out of the original 100 Afghan instructors still teaching the course.

The success of the program was also seen during the ceremony. Commandos from the 6th Commando Kandak were present to be awarded for their actions during the Jan. 18 attacks in Kabul, including one soldier who saved lives by stopping an insurgent with a suicide vest before the device detonated. After each of the commandos received their awards, they turned to their comrades and said, “This is what I’ve done for my country.”

Afghan Soldiers put on red berets to signify their acceptance into the ranks of the Afghan National Army's commandos upon graduation of the Commando Training Program Jan. 21. 922 students graduated the 12 week training program designed to teach students how to conduct raid and strike operations in coordination with other ANA units.

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