MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Six Afghan National Army Commando Kandak (battalion) officers, recently visited II Marine Expeditionary Force units to exchange ideas and see first-hand how Marines train for combat, April 8.
During their visit, the Afghans took part in a simulated assault on 8th Communications Battalion, watched Special Operations Training Group Marines conduct a live-fire assault on a building, and stood within 20 feet of AV-8B Harrier 2 take off.
The officers represented the 21,000 soldiers of the multi-ethnic ANA, who the Marines have assisted training in Afghanistan.
“We have seen most of this before, in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Tamkin Ishaq, battalion commander, Commando Kandak (battalion), ANA. “The Marines over there helped us set up our training. But we are hoping to learn more.”
Their day began with a brief on Military Operations in Urban Terrain at the MOUT facility, followed by a demonstration. The officers then defended a building against 8th Comm.
Taking defensive positions in a building in the center of the town, they waited for the Marines to arrive. Marines initially seemed to have misjudged the Afghan officers, but, they soon found out battle-hardened soldiers were a deadly foe.
When the battle quickly turned into close quarters combat inside a building, Marines skillfully used grenades and their training to finally break through the Afghan defenses.
Once the building was cleared, the Afghans walked back to the briefing room, sharing their recent war stories along the way.
“It was amazing to watch them; they are truly warriors,” said Col. Randy Sinnott, Marine Forces Central Command Afghanistan liaison. “We are learning so much from them. They are experts in mountain warfare and guerilla style, small unit warfare.”
Following their battle with 8th Comm, the officers headed out to SOTG to tour the facility and watch a few demonstrations including a live-fire raid on a building and a wall-breaching demonstration.
With the day coming to an end, the Afghan officers headed back to Lyman road for their final demonstration - a take-off and touch and go by an AV-8B Harrier 2. The officers turned for cover as the Harrier passed within 20 feet of them on its final take off.
“We came here to see the training program of the Marine Corps,” said Capt. Moha Unus Zebiulla, company commander, 1st company, commando kandak (battalion), ANA, “and everything that we’ll learn here we’ll take back to Afghanistan for our soldiers.”
In early 2004, there were only two battalions of the ANA were training. The number has gradually increased, with the plan to eventually have five battalions training at the same time. The training will continue until 2007, when the ANA’s ranks should be filled to approximately 70,000 soldiers, officers and civilian employees.
With the Marines continuing to assist with their training, the Afghans look forward to rebuilding their country and its military force, which marks the first time a centrally controlled military has maintained a presence in the country since the downfall of Communist Russia.
“I am looking forward to the day when we’ll have a strong, powerful army,” said Ishaq. “I am looking forward to the day when we arrest all the bad guys- especially Osama bin Laden.”