News: ANA trains to improve artillery fire capabilities
Story by Spc. Jennifer Spradlin
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The order is given and within seconds a chain of carefully coordinated events results in a deafening explosion that shakes the ground and reverberates along the mountainside. The immediate area is engulfed in a curtain of smoke and dust, and before the individual outline of people can be made out the noise of clapping and cheers fills the air.
The Afghan National Army is conducting monthly live-fire artillery training with the assistance of the Australian Mentoring Task Force 2. For the ANA soldiers, it’s an exciting culmination of their hard work and efforts.
“What they are doing is learning to supply direct and indirect fire in support of Afghan National Security Forces,” said Australian Capt. Wade Cooper, MTF-2 artillery mentor team leader. “Whether it be providing high explosives in proximity to their Army or providing illumination fires to assist the ground forces indentify friendly or enemy forces.”
Cooper and his four-man team work on a daily basis with the soldiers of the 4th Cannon Battery, 4th Combat Support Kandak, as part of MTF-2’s overarching mission to enable the ANA further to develop their security capabilities throughout Uruzgan province.
“They train very hard. They are quite regimented, very loyal and very proud to be a part of the cannon battery,” said Cooper.
The current mentoring taskforce has benefited from the positive rapport established by their predecessors and looks forward to developing the skills of the ANA soldiers to the point where their role is more advisory than hands-on.
The afternoon training focused on direct fire techniques with a 122mm D-30 towed Howitzer and high explosive rounds. The ANA were firing at a large metal target on the opposite hillside. After each round, the soldiers tracked the location of the hit in relation to the target and made minute adjustments to the angle of the weapon. Precision is an integral element of effective artillery fire and the hands-on training was invaluable to the ANA soldiers.
“This is a good experience to work with artillery,” said Hamidullah, an Afghan artillery crewmember with the 4th CS Kandak. “We are very appreciative of the support from the [Coalition Forces] and know that they put themselves in harm’s way to give us this training.”
Hamidullah said that his family fully supported his decision to join the ANA and advised him that everyone should work for the betterment of the country.
“Our soldiers have to do our best with the training. We have to come every day and try our best to learn from the Australian and U.S. troops,” said Hamidullah.
Training the ANA to take over security functions is the continued focus for MTF-2. Looking to the future, their efforts will be on acquiring additional artillery equipment to outfit the cannon battery and establish a fire support base at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot.