KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Tucked away in the hills of Afghanistan’s Kapisa Province, overlooking lake Naghlu, is Forward Operating Base Naghlu Hi, home of the 3rd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps.
This brigade is responsible for protecting Kapisa and Parwan Provinces as well as the Surobi district of Kabul province. In the midst of it all lies Bagram Airfield and the highway that connects the country’s two largest cities, Kabul and Jalalabad.
U.S. forces with 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Patriot, say they feel it’s imperative to transfer as much of the skills and knowledge they have to 3rd ANA Brigade, ensuring the unit is as prepared as possible for whatever the enemies of Afghanistan might throw their way.
“This is our main effort and I think it’s a very important mission,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Timothy Barba, signal advisor to the ANA with 2nd Battalion’s Security Forces Advise and Assist Team. “We’re trying to stabilize the Afghan Army and make sure they’re as efficient and proficient as they can be.”
Advisors from 2nd Bn. assist with each of the brigade-level functions within 3rd ANA Brigade, including operations, logistics, and sustainment. The brigade commander even has his own U.S. advisors, who say their mission is going very well.
“From what we’ve seen, we’ve been very impressed,” said Capt. Peter Anderson, SFAAT team leader, 2nd Bn. “When we first got here we conducted one or two operations with them and then they performed two missions by themselves and they were very successful.”
Unlike many advising teams across Afghanistan that are collocated with their counterparts, 2nd Bn. must travel more than thirty miles away from their home base to engage their comrades at FOB Naghlu Hi.
It is usually a multi-day undertaking, but the SFAAT team knows how important their task is and tries to get out to see 3rd ANA Brigade as often as they can.
“Because we’re not collocated with them, it took us a little longer to build a strong rapport with them. We still did what we could, going out with them, going out to where their battalion FOBs are which is kind of rare with the type of advising we’re doing now, but we go up there to our advising platforms, spend a few days there and try to do as much as we can with them,” said Capt. Jose Perez, 2nd Bn’s SFAAT sustainment advisor.
The trick for these advisors is making the most out of the time they spend with their counterparts. They have to get as much done as possible, but also balance the amount of time they spend advising so as not to interrupt 3rd ANA Bde’s operations.
“We try to do as much as we can with them, as much as they’ll allow us to, depending on what’s going on with their schedule,” Said Perez. “They have their jobs, their tasks, their duties that they have to do and we don’t want to get in the way of that.”
The SFAAT team especially wants to give 3rd ANA Bde as much time as they can to perform their own duties as the ANA prepares for what may be its most important operation to date: securing the presidential election in 2014.
“From what we’ve seen, we hope that they’ll be able to take everything they’ve learned from us and their previous advisors and have a successful election,” said Anderson.
For 2nd Bn, that confidence in their counterparts extends far beyond the elections.
“Overall, it looks like 3rd Bde is set up for success across all warfighting functions,” said Anderson. “I think the groundwork they have set with their logistics, their resupply and their resources, they’ll be able to sustain themselves well into the future. Also, if they continue to train and conduct operations like they are, then they should be able to defeat the insurgency.”