Afghan Special Operations

ANA Commando Battalion

The ANA Commando Battalions are part of the Afghan National Army and were formed from existing Infantry battalions. The program was established in early 2007 with the intent of taking one conventional battalion from each of the ANA Corps, giving them special training and equipment and reorganizing based on a United States Army Ranger Battalion.

The training is conducted at the Morehead Commando Training Center, a former Taliban training compound and is located six miles south of Kabul, Afghanistan. The training center is named after 5th Special Forces Group soldier MSG Kevin Morehead, who was killed in Iraq in September 2003.

The training of supply, logistics and operations is conducted by mentors from Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, United States Army Special Forces, French Special Forces, ANA cadre and MPRI.

The 12 week program has three concurrent training sections for the entire course. The primary and bulk of the training is geared for the Infantry line companies with a focus on individual skills and small unit tactics. To support the line companies, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company receives special training in specific skills such as mortars, medical care, and communications. The third section focuses on the Battalion staff, their core areas of responsibility and function as the Command and Control (C2).

Upon graduation, each Commando Battalion returns to it’s designated Corps area along with an embedded Special Forces A-Team and begins using an 18 week training cycle that breaks down to six weeks each of train-up, missions and recovery.

Of the five active duty Special Forces Groups, 3rd Group and 7th Group have been rotating responsibility as the main effort for continued training and advising in the Afghanistan theater.

Combat Operations

September 2007: The first ANA Commando Battalion graduated on July 24, 2007, with Col. Fareed Ahmadi as the battalion commander.[11] This ANA Commando Battalion conducted its first operation, a two day mission in September 2007, 30 miles southwest of Jalalabad in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar province. There they captured two large weapons caches, over 80 kg of opium and detained Haji Shir Khan, a known improvised explosive device maker.

November 2007: 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak (201st), conducted an air-assault raid at dawn on the compound of a high-level Taliban facilitator, kicking off a four-day offensive operation named Operation Commando Fury in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa Province, Nov. 10-14, 2007. A joint effort by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army assisted the Commando battalion in disrupting the Taliban hold on the Tag Ab Valley.

December 2007: The second ANA Commando Battalion, originally from the 203rd Corps, conducted a series of raids throughout the Sabari district in Afghanistan’s Khowst province, Dec. 27–28, 2007. During the operation, the force arrested a suspected major insurgent facilitator primarily associated with the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan terrorist organization and believed to have ties to the Haqqani network terrorist group, the Taliban and al-Qaida. The combined Afghan force conducted the two-day operation without a shot being fired.

January 2008: The third ANA Commando Battalion, originally from the 205th Corps, along with Coalition forces, conducted a four-day operation to disrupt insurgents activity in the volatile Tag Ab Valley of Kapisa Province January 19–23, 2008. The 205th Commandos patrolled the Naghlu Reservoir to the village of Jangali in order to disrupt insurgent activities in the center of the valley as the combined force moved north. This operation served as a graduation exercise to providing confidence in the abilities of the newly formed Commando Kandak.

February 2008: The second ANA Commando Battalion (203rd Corps), along with Coalition forces, captured a key insurgent facilitator in Khost Province February 9, 2008. The Ministry of Defense announced that ANA forces captured a known Taliban commander, Nasimulla, during a combined operation in the Dand Faqiran area of Yaqubi District.

February 2008: 1st Company of the first ANA Commando Battalion (201st), conducted a night air-assault raid in the Helmand Province to capture the Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Bari. Bari was one of the top remaining Taliban field commanders able to launch deadly attacks in Helmand and Uruzgan province. He led Taliban operations against the British in northern Helmand province in the Kajaki, Musa Qala, and Baghran districts. Bari was the former governor of Helmand under the Taliban regime.

The operation, named “Say Laab”, meaning flood, utilized multiple helicopters and put over 100 commandos onto four separate targets simultaneously. The operation captured 11 combatants as well as destroying six enemy vehicles containing thousands of pounds of weapons and munitions, as well as nearly $8 million of illegal narcotics. Bari and 29 Taliban fighters were killed during the five hour long operation. The exact date of the operation wasn’t given, but was reported by CJTF-82 media center on March 1, 2008.

April 2008: one Commando Battalion (unknown designation) conducted operations in Nuristan Province on April 6, reportedly netted several members of the terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). The mission led to a coalition airstrike that, along with the ground fighting, left as many as 20 insurgents dead.

In July 2012, the Afghan commandos conducted their first successful night operation. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told the media that: “Last night in Afghanistan, US special operations joined Afghan commandos from the first special operations battalion in a full mission exercise demonstrating a night air assault. This was an Afghan plan, an Afghan-led mission. Afghan pilots flew four helicopters during the exercise, which involved more than 50 Afghan commandos, and US special operations forces acting in an advisory capacity. In the exercise, the commandos successfully discovered and apprehended a person of interest, recovered weapons and intelligence.” In March 2013, U.S. special operations forces handed over their strategic base in Wardak Province to local Afghan commandos. Afghan commandos gradually began taking over the lead from NATO forces the fight against insurgents. In April 2013, Afghan commandos killed 22 insurgents in Nangarhar Province and captured another 10 insurgents.

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