TARIN KOT, Afghanistan (Army News Service, July 16, 2012) -- Afghan field artillery soldiers displayed deployment-ready skill, under the direction of deployment-ready leadership, during Exercise Eagle's Flight at Patrol Base Sorkh Bid in northern Kandahar province, July 11, 2012.
Darting up and down the firing line commanding his men, 2nd Lt. Abdul Samad, commander, 2nd Battery, or Canon Tolay, 4th Brigade, 205th Corps, Afghan National Army, or ANA, displayed strong control and leadership during the exercise. Coalition mentors on hand to assess ANA performance took a back seat during the exercise.
Following two previous artillery qualification exercises, employing direct and indirect fire of the D-30 122mm howitzer, ANA members of 2nd Battery, or Canon Tolay, 4th Kandak, 4th Brigade, 205th Corps ANA successfully conducted their final artillery fire validation with high-explosive, smoke, and illumination rounds.
The ANA conducted artillery procedures under the critical gaze of Australian mentors confirming their capability to deploy forward independently in support of operations.
Samad confirmed the positive display of gunnery, stating, "the event was very good, the heavy weapons training is very important for the ANA going into the future and we want to improve this in all ANA brigades throughout Afghanistan."
With training and validation complete, the imperative is now to ensure the battery has appropriate equipment to provide proper fire for effect and support to their fellow soldiers within the brigade.
"We have enough weapons, we have the ANA supply system, we are complete," said Samad. "I am 100 percent sure that the ANA have the ability to take care of our country."
The reduction of coalition-led operations, coupled with the recent transfer of authority of the 205th Corps to take control of the local area of operations, highlights the imperative to enable the organic operational system within each ANA brigade. The training provided by coalition mentors, combined with the enthusiasm of soldiers of 4th Brigade, improved this requirement to a safer standard.
"The ANA are a very capable organization; they've been fighting and protecting their own people for a very long time," said Australian Capt. Raj Chetty, offensive support mentor, 3 Royal Australian Regiment Task Group.
With more knowledge and better training the ANA can be protectors of peace at an even greater level.
"[The battery] was well educated and trained before we arrived, and they are at a stage now that [shows] they are ready to deploy, we are just doing final assessments before they go out there," Chetty said.
"From talking to both the officers and soldiers in the battery, they believe having such a weapon platform, and the ability to position it, will render them a force to be reckoned with in direct contact with the insurgency," said Chetty, who was in charge of the validation exercise.
Following any training or validation lays the ever-present requirement to employ these skills in a real-life environment. The final test will come when the ANA are deployed to their patrol bases with no coalition support as the primary operational support asset to ANA-led operations in Uruzgan.