FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan - Despite recent setbacks in Afghanistan this month, the allied war strategy to hand off control of the nation’s security to Afghan National Security Forces in 2014 is still on track, military commanders report. Nowhere is this more evident than in portions of southern Afghanistan where a partnered operation, named Kalak Hode 5, came to a close in late September.
The joint operation brought together the soldiers of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; elements of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, of Fort Carson, Col., who make up the majority of the Security Force Assistance Teams in CTFAH’s area of operations; and the 205th Afghan National Army Corps for a corps-wide operation. The purpose of Kalak Hode 5: advise the Afghan Kandaks (battalions) on how to conduct or improve the operations that they are conducting, as well as to further disrupt the insurgency here, explained Maj. Troy Parrish, commander, SFAT 40, whose team advises 2nd Kandak.
The combined operation, which occurred throughout Zabul province, kicked off the first week in September, with a focus in and around the districts of Deh Chopan and Mizan, and was the result of several months of partnered training throughout Zabul province.
“This is like a culminating event for us in that we did a lot of planning with 2nd Kandak since we've been here,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Williams, SFAT 40’s non-commissioned officer in-charge. “We've taught them techniques on how to plan … and we encouraged them to plan. After we taught them planning, and the importance of planning, Kalak Hode 5 was kind of a culminating event for all the effort we put into teaching these guys how to plan to this point.”
The operation involved all levels of the ANA with a degree of emphasis on observing how the various brigade and corps officers commanded and controlled their subordinate Kandaks. There was also interest in seeing how those same Kandaks reported their progress to their higher headquarters, as well as the ANA’s ability to properly request ISAF enablers such as explosive ordnance disposal, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
At the end of the operation, the Afghan National Security Forces who participated were able to demonstrate with strength and conviction that they are not only able to take the lead in combined patrols but were capable of conducting patrols independent of ISAF, as they did so multiple times.
In Mizan district, the 6th Kandak went so far as to operate the entire time without the assistance of their ISAF partners, whereby validating their ability to conduct independent operations in the future.
“For the most part they [the 6th Kandak, in Mizan district] did it all themselves,” said Capt. Brian Reiser, commanding officer, Crazy Horse Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. “Even during the planning phase … they had a plan, they knew what they wanted to do and they’ve done it all by themselves.”
The 2nd Kandak, based out of FOB Eagle, in Qalat district, was already declared independent beforehand, nevertheless they opted to employ ISAF enablers such as Battle Company, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment, from Task Force Warhorse, and SFAT 40, to make sure they maintained their independent status, explained Williams. “[Otherwise] this unit operates very well on their own,” he said.