U.S. Special Forces Training Afghan Army Commandos
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KABUL, Afghanistan (August 8) - From the mountains surrounding this remote training outpost, echoes of enthusiasm ring from below as columns of Afghan National Army commando recruits scream out a cadence before they begin a close quarters drill.
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Camp Morehead, Afghanistan. - Afghan National Army Commandos conduct a close quarters training drill during recruit training at Camp Morehead near the outskits of Kabul.
Soon, the current class of recruits will graduate and earn the maroon patch representing the ANA commando, a highly regarded and capable force of Afghan special operators, whom coalition officials say are already making a difference with ongoing counterinsurgency operations throughout Afghanistan.
"When commandos go out on missions, they have the respect of the people and are often feared by the enemy," said a U.S. Special Forces officer who leads coalition training efforts at Camp Morehead. "Because they know the terrain and understand the cultural dynamics, they've been able to disrupt insurgent activity in ways that we can't, because the local population can easily relate to them."
The Afghan commando program is modeled after the U.S. Army Rangers. They are highly skilled infantrymen who are trained to conduct direct action missions against enemy objectives. Afghan officials said ANA commandos go through a careful screening process and are typically hand selected from other elements of the ANA, because of their aptitude, talent and special skills. For many of these recruits, the prestige of the Commando program is only part of the reason they chose to join this elite force.
"We are all Afghans; we take pride in being commandos, but most importantly, we are defending our country," said 1st Lt. Mohammad Walid, a platoon commander for his unit. When recruits complete their initial commando training course at Camp Morehead, they will deploy across the country and partner with coalition special operations teams to conduct missions. But ANA commando leaders are quick to point out that partnerships with coalition forces begin on the first day of training.
"We have a strong partnership with the Americans and other coalition forces that are here helping us train our men," said Col. Mohammad Nadeer, the chief of staff for the ANA Commando Brigade. "And because our men train together, work together and operate together, we have become more than partners; we are brothers."
Although coalition SOF trainers said they bring vast experience and expertise in their craft to the commando training regimen, they said Afghan forces are clearly in the lead.
"We now have a cadre of commando instructors who are leading the training curriculum here," said a U.S. Special Forces training officer.
"The Afghan Commando program brings an increasingly capable dynamic to the fight against insurgents. It's a powerful cultural message when Afghans see their own forces leading operations and building in-roads with the local people."
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