News: A huge step for the Afghan National Army recon
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The reconnaissance tolei, the Afghan equivalent of a company, for the 2nd Brigade, 203rd Corps of the Afghan National Army is a part of the 4th Kandak, the Afghan equivalent of a battalion, participated in a corps-level operation with the 6th Kandak of the same brigade, called Nijat II, during the final weeks of June.
The brigade plan for this operation was to push the enemy, located in one of the northern districts, out of Paktika province and into other ANA forces who would be simultaneously moving south from northern provinces.
Attached to the 6th Kandak, the reconnaissance tolei assisted in the isolation of six villages along the kandak’s route and was able to provide critical information that resulted in a change of the mission in the middle of the operation.
Because of the change it became necessary to clear a village that had no route allowing for a mounted element to get within four kilometers of the village undetected by the enemy. The kandak commander decided that a relatively small element would be sent to the back side of the village on foot to provide isolation.
“This is the most diverse mission recon has been assigned to date,” said U.S. Army Capt. David Judson, an adviser with the Green 4 Security Force Advisory Team, “and they are one of the best performing toleis out here.”
The operation came after six months of rigorous training, planned and taught by Afghan soldiers with U.S. advisers providing minimal guidance. Prior to this operation, the recon tolei had been used for security of the brigade tactical action center and as the brigade commander’s personal security detail.
“The recon tolei is well prepared for this mission,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Dwayne Thacker, an adviser assigned to Green 4 SFAT. “They will finally be fully utilized according to their doctrine.”
The kandak commander sent two squads, one from the reconnaissance tolei and one from a 6th Kandak, on foot to isolate the village in the early morning hours on the day of advance. A squad of U.S. advisers, with their ANA comrades, raced against the sun during the nine kilometer movement over Paktika’s broken high desert until they reached their final positions on the back side of the village.
The movement was a success. The patrol was able to isolate the village thus keeping the enemy from escaping when a mounted force approached during the daylight.
“Now they have the confidence that they are able to conduct this type of mission,” said Thacker, “and now this is all they want to do!”
The ANA soldiers and leaders who arduously worked to make this plan a success, integrated two units who before had not worked together in this capacity. They devised a detailed plan, with minimal adviser input, and proved that they can conduct this type of operation.