KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan National Army commissioned its Special Mission Wing during a ceremony July 18, in Kabul, with the help, cooperation and assistance of mentors, trainers and advisers from NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan’s Embedded Training Team.
“It is a great pleasure to see the standup of the SMW,” said Bismillah Mohammadi, Afghanistan’s Minister of Interior through an interpreter. “It shows the increasing capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to provide security for the Afghan people.”
The SMW, however, isn’t exactly new. It developed from the Air Interdiction Unit, which conducted counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions for the Afghan National Security Forces.
With the growing need for Afghan-led aviation support to special operations, said a Coalition adviser for NTM-A, the SMW was established to create a single elite special operations aviation unit to support Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense elite ground forces and ensure the security of Afghanistan.
The Special Mission Wing now works for the ANA Special Operations Command Division, which was recently stood-up at a ceremony July 16. This air wing conducts multi-functional aviation operations in support of ANASOC priorities.
The new SMW missions are usually focused on special operations to include day and night air assault operations and other missions in support of ANSF special operating forces.
“Coordinating support for both the ANA and ANP will be the key to the SMW’s success,” said Gen. Sher Karimi, chief of Afghan National Army staff through an interpreter. “And as time passes, the ANSF is becoming, and will continue to become, more and more able to fight the enemies of Afghanistan.”
In addition to its fleet of MI-17 helicopters, the SMW will eventually include light fixed-wing aircraft to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The SMW is planning to have operating bases throughout Afghanistan, and the ETT will continue to support the SMW throughout its development.