Afghan artillery soldiers support Operation Pamier
May 12, 2013
By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Kurt Carlson
2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 3, 2013) - As the sun crested the mountains that border the edges of the Pir Kowti valley, the citizens of Shey Khan village awoke to a sight they had never seen, D-30 howitzers.
As a part of Operation Pamier, a Dari word referencing a mountain range in central Asia, the Afghan National Army's D-30 Platoon from Forward Operating Base Orgun-E, displaced for the first time ever in support of a maneuver operation.
Operation Pamier was a corps-level operation that focused on clearing insurgent support zones in the Bermal and Orgun Districts of Paktika Province, Afghanistan.
For the D-30 howitzer platoon at FOB Orgun-E, Operation Pamier served as a significant milestone. Although the Afghan canonneers had taken their guns outside the wire in the past for training, they had never displaced this far east, close to the Pakistan border or into contested territory.
Using only ANA equipment and Afghan savvy, the platoon established an artillery firing point outside of the village of Shey Khan on the edge of the Pir Kowti valley. Their perimeter secured by Afghan gun trucks and observation posts, the soldiers prepared to take the fight to the Taliban.
In the planning stages it was decided to co-locate the cannons with the 3rd Kandak, 2nd Brigade headquarters of the 203rd Corps. With the guns sitting right next to the nerve center, any enemy contact met by the ANA could quickly be matched by indirect fires.
Over the course of the eleven-day operation the Afghan guns thundered in support of troops in contact, suspected enemy movements and disrupted insurgents at every turn. The display of the platoon's capabilities and competence served to highlight their necessity and lethality. This helped to strengthen the bonds between the Afghan artillerymen and the maneuver soldiers they supported in the Orgun and Bermal Districts.
While the platoon at FOB Orgun-E ventured eastward to support their maneuver brethren, the D-30's at FOB Boris were lending their support to operations in Bermal.
They supported the 2nd Kandak who were given the daunting task of pushing north to clear numerous villages in Bermal suspected of harboring insurgent fighters and rocket emplacers.
The D-30 platoon at FOB Boris fired well over one hundred rounds of illumination, high explosive, and white phosphorous in support of troops in contact and to disrupt enemy freedom of maneuver in the district. No matter what time of day or night, the ANA gun crews stood ready to fire at a moment's notice.
The Red 1 Security Force Advisory Team from 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment advised both D-30 platoons over the course of the operation. Both on and off the FOB, the advisors ensured that coalition aircraft were safely deconflicted, and verified the firing procedures were safe and professional. Overall, the mission brought to the forefront the great leaps the D-30 Battery has made over the past four months.
"This was a huge step in the battery's development," said Sgt. First Class Brandon Morey, the Red 1 noncommissioned officer in charge. "They proved that they can go anywhere, and shoot whatever missions the kandaks need to close with the enemy."
As Red 1 continues to advise the Afghan artillery, the advisors' role will become more and more hands off.
As Staff Sgt .Chad Waleisky, a fire direction advisor on the team said, "When we first arrived in Paktika, we were essentially here as trainers. Now the Afghan soldiers are to the point where we are just advising."
As the fight continues for the contentious border regions of Afghanistan, the D-30 howitzers will continue to play a key role in the struggle.