CAMP SHORABAK, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army soldiers with 6th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps graduated from an operational readiness cycle at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2017.
Comprised of approximately 350 soldiers, the unit has spent the past eight weeks developing their infantry skills at both the individual and collective level aboard the Helmand Regional Military Training Center.
Afghan instructors led the ORC, focusing on building their students’ warfighting capabilities primarily through practical application and hands-on experience.
U.S. Marine advisors with Task Force Southwest assisted their Afghan counterparts during the course, overseeing training events and providing guidance and recommendations throughout.
“The ORC is designed to receive, develop, and deploy combat power to the 215th Corps,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Seth Hall, an advisor with the Task Force. “By the end of the ORC, the kandak is fully manned and equipped to conduct combat operations in the 215th Corps area of operation.”
The Helmand RMTC holds several ORCs every year, which allows for participating infantry kandaks to reassess their tactics and procedures in preparation for future missions.
This iteration also incorporated Afghan air assets into certain training segments. Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters supported casualty evacuation exercises, while AAF C-208 planes executed several resupply drops to soldiers conducting a notional operation.
“What distinguished this training from other courses was that we worked shoulder-by-shoulder with the Air Force to conduct real-world simulations, which has not happened with other kandaks,” said ANA Master Sgt. Feda Mohammed, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of training at the Helmand RMTC.
“This was significant as it was the first time aerial CASEVAC and aerial resupply was incorporated in the ORC… [it] showed the leadership and individual soldiers of the kandak that the ANA has capabilities to evacuate casualties as well as conduct resupplies forward on the battlespace,” said Hall.
The soldiers of 6th Kandak, 1st Brigade advanced gradually from classroom instruction to hands-on training within their respective skillsets. Live-fire ranges using mortars, machine guns, SPG-9s and other weapons allowed them to further build upon their combat power. Small unit warfare training starting at the squad level and eventually progressing to company-sized attacks prepared the soldiers for the culminating final training exercise, which tested the unit’s ability to destroy notional enemy positions and replicated a real-world combat operation.
“The kandak now has the necessary tools to enable mission success in their area of operations,” said Hall. “The training has also given them the understanding of battle tracking movements of friendly and enemy forces in support of coalition and Afghan air support, as well as understanding the entire battlefield through a forward operations center.”
Recent missions in Helmand province have shown the Afghan National Defense and Security Force’s ability to move freely and clear Taliban strongholds. The addition of a proficient infantry kandak to the fight will only further enhance ANDSF’s operations and continue improving security and stability for the local populace.
“Given our training here… I promise to the people of Afghanistan that we are ready for any mission,” said ANA Capt. Mohammed Dawood, the executive officer of 6th Kandak, 1st Brigade. “We are all trained, we are well-equipped, and our unit is ready for any enemy who comes our way.”