PPAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Children watch as a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle slowly drives through the village of Warjana Kalay in Orgun district April 12. Members of the security Read more
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the early morning on Dec. 22, before their normal daily patrols were scheduled to begin, 17 Afghan National Policemen lined up outside their district center. Read more
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers located at Combat Outpost Spera partnered with members of the Afghan National Army to destroy a multi-room building, used to protect insurgents as they travelled Read more
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Soldiers and Afghan National Security Forces are working together to increase security and governance along the Khost-Gardez pass at a new Combined Tactical Operations Center Read more
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan –The disparate sounds of instructions passed in both English and Pashtu fill the air. Memos and faxes in both blocky Roman letters and the scrawling lines of the local script pass through hands of those alternately clad in the digital pattern of the U.S. Army Combat Uniform and the woodland camouflage of the Afghan National Army.
The uniforms may clash, but the work in the Combined Action Tactical Operations Center represents the highest levels of cooperation.
“Everything they know we know instantly. Everything we know, they know instantly,” said Lt. Col. Steve Lutsky, commander of 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “It’s information sharing at the highest level.”
Opened in November last year, and currently manned by members of 1-33 Cavalry and the 1st Brigade, 203rd Corps of the ANA the Camp Parsa CATOC is a brigade-level command facility that allows Afghan and coalition forces to integrate all stages of military operations from planning to execution.
Everything written in the building is in both Pashto and English and every person working in the CATOC works side-by-side with his or her counterpart.
The partnership in the CATOC has made a big difference in the success of operations, said 1-203 executive officer, Brig. Gen. Zaheer Wardak with the aid of an interpreter.
“If we were working before we were making plans on maps,” he said. “But, the coalition forces were not in the picture and we had a lot of casualties and mistakes.”
Since combining their efforts, Wardak said, the level of violence in the Khost area has dropped when compared to this time last year.
Last year, he said, the New Year on the Islamic Hijra calendar was met with 15 explosions. This year the New Year on the Hijra calendar began March 21 with much less violence. Wardak credits the CATOC for the security improvement.
“From the blessing of the CATOC we had no IED attacks, no rocket attacks, no incoming attacks,” he said.
In addition to the sharing of information and intelligence, the CATOC offers a wide variety of advantages for the 1-203 Wardak said.
Unifying U.S. and Afghan efforts has led to a strengthened civil affairs effort, Wardak said, resulting in more than 20 community meetings with tribal elders and significant progress on issues like education.
Another advantage of the CATOC is it allows the ANA to use technology U.S. Soldiers tend to take for granted. Wardak said the simple abilities to print and copy memos have been invaluable.
“It’s a very strong cooperation we have with Coalition Forces,” he said, “which is why we beat the enemy in their operations every time.”
Although the ANA are now working more closely with their American counterparts than before, Brigade-level leadership on both sides said the CATOC has helped foster ANA self-sufficiency.
A disruption operation based in Borgay village, March 8, 9 and 10 is evidence that the CATOC has helped increase Afghan self-sufficiency, Lutsky said.
The operation was planned and conducted with only one platoon outside support – 2nd Plt., Troop A, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cav. Regt. – who were needed mainly to coordinate air support.
“I think [the CATOC is] building capacity with the ANA because since we eat, sleep, and fight together. The (standard operating procedures) we’ve developed together are starting to be emulated by the ANA.”
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