By ISAF Joint CommandMay 20, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan, May 16, 2011 -- Members of the 2nd Afghan National Civil Order Patrol Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, team completed three weeks of grueling training with the Kandahar Pathfinder Detachment, 4th Battalion of the 101st Aviation Regiment, and are ready to take their place as the newest elite Afghan security force.
The members of the Afghan National Civil Order Patrol, or ANCOP, SWAT air assault team went through weeks of intense training that spanned from improvised explosive device recognition training to conducting full mock air assaults in the sweltering heat of the Red desert.
"Today was the culminating event of a three-week training program that we designed to form a permanent partnership with the Pathfinder Detachment at (Kandahar Air Field) and the 2nd ANCOP SWAT," said Capt. Thomas Buller, Pathfinder Detachment commander, as he walked through the deep sand of the Red desert to greet the newest members of the partnership.
"What today's event showed is that we, as partners, can conduct an air assault, shoot, move and communicate together, and incorporate air to ground integration to clear any objective," he said.
Each ANCOP member was paired with a pathfinder during the training and their resolve to learn the skills taught was evident as pathfinder and ANCOP moved as one unit to assault a position as air weapons teams unleashed rounds and missiles into the target area.
Incorporating air assault capabilities into the ANCOP arsenal has long been a priority for the 2nd ANCOP.
"I'm very happy to work with the pathfinders and they helped us reach a goal we really wanted to complete," said Afghan 1st Lt. Sultan Aziz, 2nd ANCOP SWAT commander. "We have met our goals at every turn and I could not be happier for my guys and the results they have achieved."
Buller said the training conducted on the final day was a high-risk operation, but it demonstrated that with the dedication both pathfinder and ANCOP showed toward the partnership, they can fight together.
"The training we did today showed that we can work and execute an operation together, but the overall training was extremely important because it built a personal relationship between my guys and Lieutenant Aziz's guys," Buller said with his arm around Aziz's shoulder. "The personal relationship in this kind of operation is everything."
"We are going to be fighting together very soon here in Kandahar province," Buller said. "I have to rely on Lieutenant Aziz and he has to rely on me. That goes for every one of our Soldiers. The personal relationship we built forms that bond of trust we demonstrated today."
Aziz said the members of his team echo the trust the pathfinders have shown in them and the bond they formed together will continue to grow in the future as they fight and work shoulder-to-shoulder. It will be valuable when the ANCOP begin to operate their own air assault teams.
"We created this partnership because we wanted to bring air assault capabilities to the ANCOP SWAT team. They are already an elite unit and every one of them has volunteered to be ANCOP, SWAT, and now Air Assault," said Buller.
The creation of the ANCOP air assault team is one more step to help provide sustained security for the people of the Kandahar. The members of the new team are ready and willing to learn everything they can to prepare for the future transition.
"Our main goal is to free our country from the insurgents and we are using all the training from the American and coalition forces to meet that goal," said Aziz. "One day soon we will no longer need their help and we will be able to maintain security for our people with Afghan security forces." Aziz said.
Aziz's goal is coming ever closer as the next phase of training and integration is a creation of an all Afghan air assault team.
"We anticipate that the next evolution in this training will be integration with the Afghan Air Force and our goal before we leave is to see a fully Afghan led air assault SWAT team," said Buller.
As Aziz and Buller watched the last team stream off the helicopter and form up in the near blinding conditions created by the rotor wash of the Black Hawks, the only way to distinguish the ANCOP from pathfinder was the shape of the AK-47 versus the M-4.
Buller and Aziz echoed each other's sentiment, as the last team completed their assault.
"We are ready to fight together," they said.