News: Afghan National Army conducts large-scale operation
Story by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces solely conducted one of the largest operations in the history of the ANSF in late December 2013, in a mission that covered four provinces in southern Afghanistan.
During Operation “Chamtoo,” soldiers from the 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police simultaneously swept through villages and towns, defeating Taliban insurgents and finding weapon caches.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamid, the commander of the 205th Corps, talked about the goal of Operation Chamtoo and how it differed in strategy from previous missions.
“The idea was to apply pressure to the enemy at different locations all at once to take away their freedom of maneuver,” Hamid said. “We have gone at them in the past at specific locations, but the enemy will just simply move away to a different location.”
Hamid took those results and combated the ability for the enemy to escape.
“This is the biggest operation we have conducted in four provinces at the same time. It didn’t give the enemy an opportunity to move to different locations,” he said. “We were able to kill and capture many enemies at different locations.”
This operation comes at a time when ANSF is at its largest capacity ever – with more than 45,000 soldiers and policemen in Regional Command (South) alone.
During these cross-pillar operations, nearly 4,500 ANSF killed more than 50 insurgents while clearing key areas in Kandahar, Daykundi, Uruzgan, and Zabul.
The ANSF also found many weapons caches – approximately 1000 improvised explosive devices, including in Uruzgan – where 17 suicide vests were discovered.
Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, Regional Command (South) and 4th Infantry Division commanding general, talked about how far the ANSF has come after conducting such a large operation independently.
“This is a good thing because Afghans are providing security for Afghans; Operation Chamtoo exemplifies how far the ANSF has come,” LaCamera said. “They planned and executed this successful Corps-level operation without much input or support from ISAF advisers.”
He also talked about the key to fighting insurgency and how the ANSF has combated enemy forces in Afghanistan.
“A successful counterinsurgency fight requires effective coordination between the police, army, and government. The Afghan army and police are working well together,” LaCamera said. “The Afghan security forces continue to pressure the enemies of Afghanistan to create the necessary conditions for economic stability and governance.”
Hamid agreed, talking about the partnership between the ANA and ANP.
“During Operation Chamtoo there was good information sharing between the border police, our air wing, police, our forces,” he said.
While the ANSF solely conducted Chamtoo, the operation came after successful smaller partnered operations with International Security Assistance Force units.
Lt. Col. Eric Lopez, commander of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, oversaw many operations that security force assistance teams conducted with 205th Corps soldiers in Zabul, Afghanistan.
Lopez spoke about the progression he has seen with the ANA and their ability to conduct operations by themselves leading up to Chamtoo.
“Through our time here in Zabul we have seen them (ANA) demonstrate capabilities across all the war-fighting functions,” Lopez said. “I’m extremely confident in them moving forward.”
Hamid credited the help ISAF has given the ANSF over the years, and how that helps make operations like Chamtoo happen.
“ISAF will help us if necessary,” Hamid said. “We are gaining good experience when we conduct operations and the successes are boosting morale within my soldiers.”
With the success of Chamtoo comes a positive outlook for the ANSF, as well setting the conditions for the upcoming elections of south Afghanistan, LaCamera said.
“The ANSF is setting the conditions for transparent and free elections,” LaCamera said. “Security is improving because they are applying pressure on enemy networks.”