Afghan National Army; picking up the intelligence signal
January 27, 2014
LAGHMAN, Afghanistan -- The 201st Afghan National Army Corps received its first training and fielding of the 'Wolfhound' signal intelligence gathering system at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Jan. 18-31, 2014.
The Wolfhound will allow ANA soldier's to hear enemy radio communication and, as an improvement to the current system, it will tell Afghan troops the enemy's location which has been a source of irritation in the past.
The Wolfhound signal intelligence gathering system is new to the entire Afghan Army; the 201st ANA Corps, located in Regional Command East, North of Kabul and the 203rd ANA Corps in RC East, South of Kabul are the only Afghan units currently receiving the equipment and training.
"In the past they've gotten enemy plans as [the enemy] talked about it on the radio," said Capt. Gabriel Justus, 201st ANA Corps intelligence advisor with 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot. "As a result [the ANA] were able to change their actions and intercept the enemy stopping their plans."
Although their current system has provided quality results in thwarting enemy activity, it was missing one thing -- direction.
"ANA soldiers like [the AOR 8200]; they use it, but they asked for more direction finding," said Staff Sgt. Marcos Falcones of Tampa Fla. "They felt a little frustrated because they can hear the enemy but they can't always locate where the enemy's signal is transmitting from."
The 201st and 203rd Corps are receiving this equipment and training because their advising teams were able to provide something unique.
"The rest of the ANA will have to go through Sia Sang, the ANA's intelligence training school, to learn the equipment before it's issued to their units," said Falcones, who serves as a low-level voice intercept trainer with the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, deployed to support 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div., Task Force Patriot. "Fortunately Task Force Patriot has embedded trainers and were able to sign for the equipment far in advance."
The advisors, providing this training, are members of the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade based at Fort Hood, Texas. The Afghan students are very satisfied with the training they are receiving.
"We have learned a lot in theory and practical exercise from our instructors" said Sgt. Noor Mohammad with the 201st ANA Corps' Military Intelligence Kandak. "We have learned enough about the Wolfhound system to feel comfortable using it when the need comes during a mission."
While the Wolfhound system will help soldiers on the ground in the fight; there is a higher benefit as well.
"Right now [the ANA] have glorified police scanners," said Justus, of Atlanta, Ga. "This new system will really set them up on the avenues to getting better fidelity of information so Afghan commanders can make timely decisions to defeat the enemy."
The ultimate purpose of the Wolfhound is to serve as an 'early warning' system. Justus said this capability should have a strong impact on the upcoming 2014 Afghan presidential elections.
"When it comes to elections, [the Wolfhound] is going to be critical because you're going to have fixed sites, your polling sites, that you can't move and they're going to be widely known, because the public's going to know about them," said Justus. "The only advantage the enemy has is surprise of time and direction; well [the Wolfhound] provides [the ANA] with early warning."
Coalition Forces like Task Force Patriot continue to provide valued mentorship and training, but Mohammad wants to assure his people of the ANSF's capability.
"ANA troops are standing on their own feet, even though we still receive training from foreign troops," said Mohammad. "We are confident in [our ability to] stabilize the election pole's locations."
The Wolfhound also helps ANA commanders with tracking specific known enemy personnel. ANA soldiers are continuing to develop their basic soldier skills, like map reading, so current reports come out without grid coordinates, which can be essential to locating a target.
"Sometimes we get intelligence reports and they may be concerning a province but without certain information, it could be anywhere in the province," said Justus. "Because the Wolfhound system does the direction finding and retains the information for [the ANA], they can go back on the system's screen."
This system may ultimately prove itself valuable to more than just the ANA soldier on the ground; it may prove valuable to the stability of the Afghan National Security Force's ability to secure Afghanistan.
"The ANSF are fighting a tenacious enemy that has resisted defeat for 12 years and this system provides an advantage that takes away the insurgents natural ability to blend in with the public and to use their informant networks to get early warning on ANSF operations, this turns the tables," said Justus.