CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan -- As the war against insurgency continues in Helmand Province, hundreds of Afghan National Army soldiers with 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade, 215th Corps graduated from an operational readiness cycle at the Helmand Regional Military Training Center July 24, 2017.
The eight-week course reintroduced small-unit infantry concepts and proper weapons handling to both commissioned and noncommissioned officers with prior battlefield experience, while giving new soldiers a chance to hone their skills before engaging with the enemy.
“The RMTC is a place where we make soldiers better to fight for Afghanistan. We are training hard to bring peace to Helmand Province,” said ANA Sgt. Maj. Meeragha, the sergeant major of the Helmand RMTC.
Approximately 15 Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest, most of whom have been involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom or both, provided assistance and recommendations to the RMTC instructors throughout the evolution.
“This training bolsters their individual skills and also provides much needed updated training to current enemy tactics, techniques and procedures,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Huggins, an advisor with the Task Force. “It's also based on a crawl, walk, run strategy that builds upon itself from individual skills to collective kandak tasks, which allows the newer soldiers to receive their initial training and get used to how they are part of a well-oiled machine.”
The 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade is the first ANA unit to complete the ORC with advising from Task Force Southwest, who replaced the U.S. Army unit Task Force Forge in late April as the primary train, advise and assist element in Helmand. According to Col. Shahwali Zazai, the commanding officer of the Helmand RMTC, the ability of both the ANA and Marines to work seamlessly has created one of the best training regimens in the nation.
“The RMTC and Marine instructors have established really good coordination with each other,” said Zazai. “Because of this good coordination, we train these soldiers until they are confident they can defeat the enemy.”
Live-fire ranges with M16A2 rifles, machine guns and mortar systems, squad and platoon-sized attacks and military operations in urban terrain training were focal points over the eight weeks.
“This training has improved our knowledge, tactics and has taught my soldiers what they need to perform on the battlefield,” said ANA 2nd Lt. Mohammed Shaheen, a platoon commander assigned to 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade. “My expectations of my soldiers is that they will perform well [in future missions], and the training they received during the ORC will help them do that.”
“I do feel that they have a lot more confidence in their weapon systems and their tactics now that they have completed the ORC and are incredibly eager to get to be the main effort in the future,” said Huggins.
The soldiers of 2nd Kandak, 4th Brigade will join their fellow Afghan National Defense and Security Forces shortly after graduation in the fight against insurgency, using their new-found knowledge to help bring security and stability to the region.