By Army Lt. Col. Paul Fanning
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 1, 2008 - A new organization is improving the Afghan National Army's ability to move capable forces from its training center to the operational commands. The sense of urgency for this new concept has increased following the announcement of plans to grow the Afghan National Army past the initial authorization of 82,000 to 135,000 to meet Afghanistan's security needs.
The Consolidated Fielding Center, based at the ANA's Pol-e-Charki reservation near Kabul, assembles new units from training center graduates and sends them forward as organized, staffed and equipped teams, enabling corps commanders to concentrate more on operations and less on administration, training and logistics.
The CFC organizes individuals for the first time into a unit and establishes a chain of command. This vital step will improve both the quality and speed of ANA growth, Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan officials said.
"The ANA was faced with tremendous problems when it came to fielding new units downrange," said Army Lt. Col. Jesse Edwards, senior mentor and team chief for the CFC. "The CFC was built to address system challenges that were preventing the ANA from growing capable units at a critical time in Afghanistan's development."
The Kabul Military Training Center conducts basic training and produces infantry soldiers and other qualified specialties out of new recruits. It also trains new officers and noncommissioned officers for leadership roles in the growing ANA.
Until now, the ANA did not have an efficient method to organize units, equip them and transport them to their assigned commands from the training center so that they could arrive as intact teams.
Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, which oversees the mission to develop Afghan national security forces, developed the concept and issued it to Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix for implementation in May. The CFC reached initial operating capability July 10 and full capability on Sept. 21, when it graduated its first unit: 2nd Kandak, 3rd Brigade of the ANA's 203rd Corps.
"We were standing up the permanent Afghan training center as we were training and supporting the first unit," Edwards said. "We met every milestone along the way."
The challenges his team of trainers and mentors overcame included creating the center's structure and manning, establishing facilities, obtaining needed equipment and developing the training program.
The CFC structure is modeled after U.S. Army training that support battalions used to support the deployment of mobilized Guard and Reserve units for federal active duty. While trainers and mentors from U.S. and coalition partners conceived and built the organization, the CFC belongs to the ANA.
Each CFC unit undergoes an eight-week cycle following the soldiers' training at KMTC. Following its graduation, the first unit through the CFC completed its own independent movement to its new command the next day.
(Army Lt. Col. Paul Fanning serves in the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix Public Affairs Office.)