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NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army Soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Kalagush in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province received a surprise visit, Jan. 3, from ANA Col. Mohammed Afzal, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps.
Afzal came to assess the ANA Battery’s artillery training and procedures.
The colonel arrived on a convoy from Mehtar Lam with ANA Col. Rafi, the ANA commander of Nuristan Operations Coordination Center, and three Afghan reporters to assess eastern Afghanistan’s main artillery training facility as they near completion of their training. This will enable ANA soldiers to carry out artillery support without the assistance of Coalition forces.
Capt. Gul, the Afghan battery commander, met the senior leadership at the front gate and escorted the group to the firing position, where 122mm Howitzers were emplaced.
ANA Sgt. Wardak, one of the two gun line chiefs, met the group at his Howitzer. He proceeded to show them the important pieces of the Howitzer and how his crew worked the gun before, during and after a standard fire mission.
Under Wardak’s supervision, the soldiers conducted two “dry missions,” or rehearsals, doing everything to standard, except firing the round. The gun crew then fired three 122mm high explosive rounds into a nearby mountain. The colonel was more than pleased.
ANA Staff Sgt. Mongei Boi, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Fire Direction Center, then showed the command group how the gun receives its data for the fire missions.
The group then showed the command group terrain association with maps; displaying the knowledge they had learned from their U.S. Marine Corps Embedded Training Team, and the assistance of the 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment Fire Direction Center and gun line.
Afzal, a long-time veteran of Afghan artillery, expressed his joy for the trained artillery platoon.
“I am so happy with the progress you have made with your new commander (Capt. Gul),” he said. “After observing your knowledge and enthusiasm I am going to make it a priority to order six new computers, one for each of your Fire Direction Centers.”
Zaman Mohammadi, one of the Afghan reporters working for Shamshad Television, was most impressed with the Afghan battery.
“I have been travelling throughout my country for a long time, recording and displaying the progress of the Afghan military to the citizens of Afghanistan,” he said. “I have seen so much progress; it makes me very happy.”
To celebrate the outstanding leadership displayed by the Afghan leaders and the soldiers that they command, Rafi bought a goat for the battery and invited the U.S. servicemembers who helped train the battery to the ANA command post for a traditional Afghan feast.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Forsyth, from Mayfield, Ky., commander of 2nd Battalion, 77th FA Regiment, sat with Afzal and praised the Afghan battery commander for his leadership and the soldiers that he commands.
“It’s been great having your battery here to train,” Forsyth said. “They have been a great help with patrolling the nearby villages. They know and interact with the villagers much better than we do. They are helping to better our relationship with the Afghan people.”
Afzal thanked Forsyth and said, “Without your training and cooperation this would not be possible. Because of the training you have established with my unit here, I plan on cycling out these trained soldiers to the front lines to teach the lessons they have learned here to their counterparts.”
The leaders continued to discuss the future training of the ANA Kandak. A plan to transfer the fully certified soldiers from FOB Kalagush to other ANA batteries is expected in the near future.
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