By Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 30, 2007 - Afghan national security forces, continuing to move from supporting roles to lead roles, recently demonstrated their leadership skills by planning operations in Gardez to secure their country. During a rehearsal operations planning meeting at Camp Thunder, the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police put themselves in lead roles, counting on coalition troops only for support and mentorship.
All the operations planning was briefed and discussed in Dari by Afghan planners. American soldiers present quietly listened in on headphones as an interpreter translated.
The speakers discussed tactics for securing areas, beating insurgents and meeting logistical needs during a real operation.
American soldiers offered a few pointers in the presentation set-up and methods, but otherwise they stepped back and let the Afghan personnel handle all aspects of the planning meeting.
"There is a good relationship between the ANA, ANP and coalition here," said Army Col. Barry A. Searle, commander of Regional Corps Advisory Command East. Taking the lead role in planning and conducting operations says a lot about the future of Afghanistan and the country's security forces, Searle said.
"The staff has been empowered," he said. "They are showing depth and capability we have not yet seen in this corps."
Army Maj. Brian P. Sullivan, operations officer with the brigade combat team for Task Force Fury, agreed. "They're growing every day," Sullivan, from Fort Bragg, N.C., said.
The Afghan forces' willingness to take the lead in operations can be attributed to their growing relationship and increased capabilities. The cooperation has helped maintain operational achievements, U.S. officials said.
Afghan army Col. Yar Mohammad Saidi, deputy commander for the 203rd ANA Corps, said that since Operation Maiwand last summer, the force has had continuous coordination and good relations with the national police.
"When we work together, we will accomplish the mission," added national police Maj. Raz Muhammad Wardak, Southeast Police Headquarters regional operations officer.
(Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)