Afghan Commandos: Hunters From The Sky

The Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC) continues to develop and demonstrate its capabilities in Afghanistan’s counter-insurgency (COIN) fight.  

Final coordination briefing prior to the mission

On March 15, 2010, two Mi-17 helicopters flew to Camp Morehead to link up with the 6th Commando Kandak & Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) 3336.  There they briefed with the 6th Kandak and practiced loading and unloading of the troops.

Load and unload training

At 1000hrs the two Mi-17s inserted 39 commandos at their objective, the village of Gazar, then took off and returned to Camp Morehead. Gazar is a small village located in a valley southwest of Kabul and has been used as a staging area for Taliban militants conducting operations in and around Kabul.

Landing zone in Gazar village

The mission was to secure the town and meet with the leaders in a Shura to prevent the Taliban from returning for this year’s fighting season.

Besides the Shura movement, the Mi-17s transported medical equipment for the ODA team members to provide care to the locals in an ongoing effort to win the hearts and minds of the local Afghans. The members of the ODA team also delivered school supplies for the children of Gazar.

Infiltration of the 6th Commando Kandak at Gazar village

At 1330 hrs the Mi-17s returned to Gazar and extracted the commandos that had successfully completed their mission and safely returned them to Camp Morehead. 

The Mi-17 is the export version of the Mi-8, a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1. The Mi-8 is about twice the size and weight of the UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo. However, the Mi-8 has a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in the UH-1. The Mi-8 also costs about half as much as a UH-60 – this, plus its large interior makes it popular with many users.

Sources:  NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and

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