Afghan security forces learn about counterinsurgency
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan -- The core principle of the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan is defeating the insurgents and securing the population, a difficult concept to master for a developing army and police force.

Coalition forces from the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, Counterinsurgency Training Center-Afghanistan, and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Combined Task Force Spartan) are partnering with Afghan soldiers and police officers to teach critical skills as the Afghan security forces prepare to take over security by 2014.

A mobile training team from the CTC-Afghanistan taught the basics of counterinsurgency to nearly 90 Afghan soldiers from the 5th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Saturday. The 5th Kandak -- the equivalent of an American battalion-sized unit -- is partnered with Soldiers from Combined Task Force Spartan's 710th Brigade Support Battalion.

"The purpose of our class is to further the knowledge of our (Afghan National Army) partners in counterinsurgency concepts and ideas, (so they) can become more effective in engaging the population and engaging the insurgents," said Lamar Stellfox, a subject-matter expert with the CTC-Afghanistan.

The classes were taught at the Convoy Support Center at FOB Pasab for officers and noncommissioned officers from each kandak. There are four classes taught in one day that demonstrate the crawl-walk-run approach to securing the population in Afghanistan.

"We offer four classes, the first one being a 30-minute presentation on COIN framework, which is just a presentation to show them the basics of how the insurgency starts and grows and then how the counterinsurgency comes in, helps the government and defeats the insurgency," Stellfox said.

"Our second class was our interactive COIN class, where we actually bring in members of the audience to help them visually see how the insurgency comes about," he continued. "The third class we did was the fundamentals of insurgency, and the last class was the fundamentals of counterinsurgency."

Instructors stressed the importance of engaging the populations to the Afghan security forces in attendance, helping them understand how to do so effectively.

"I believe the class will help us create a more stable Afghanistan, especially with the principles of counterinsurgency, and of course unity of effort and security through rule of law," Stellfox said.

In each mobile training team, there are four U.S. Army personnel, one civilian, one Australian Army officer and three interpreters. Teams travel throughout Afghanistan and teach classes to help create a standardized form of engagement with the local population and with the insurgency.

After years of a counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan, coalition forces have learned that the best way to win is by winning the support of the population.

"Insurgents fight the way they do because they face a superior force. Over the years, people have developed this strategy of a subversive group of fighters hidden in the population," said 1st Lt. Thomas Gade, an instructor for CTC-A. "They try to illegitimize the government and eventually take control of the government via population support."

Through training in both military tactics and counterinsurgency operations, Afghan security forces will be prepared to protect their homes and maintain security and stability throughout the country.

"A superior force will not win a fight against an insurgency if they do not focus on the population; that is why we are here," Gade said. "We are here to train the (Afghan security forces) to have a population-centric mindset that they can then use to influence their operations. That is the key to success against the insurgency in Afghanistan."