American Forces Press Service
May 18, 2009 - The Afghan National Army's top leaders convened here May 12 and 13 for discussions and teambuilding. The Corps and Commando Commanders' Conference marked the first time leadership from the elite commando brigade and kandaks -- battalion-size units -- met with leadership from the army's regional corps. The Afghan army's five corps consist of infantry kandaks and other conventional forces, while the six commando kandaks are home to the country's special operations soldiers.
The event was meant to bring the elements together and help them maximize their capabilities as they strive for a common goal of securing the country and destroying the enemy for the Afghan people, officials said.
"The aim of this conference was to inform the corps commanders that the commandos are ready to deploy in support of operations whenever needed," Col. M. Farid Ahmady, the 1st Commando Brigade deputy commanding officer, said. "However, the tactics, techniques and procedures used by commandos are different than those used by conventional ANA forces, and therefore, the commandos must be used differently."
Ahmady and other senior commando leaders helped to provide a clear explanation of the commando kandaks' full-spectrum capabilities and the proper way for the corps to request and use the elite warrior force.
The conference's first day included speeches and presentations from the commanders of the six commando kandaks and the executive officers of the 201st, 203rd, 205th, 207th and 209th Corps. Also present were the ANA Chief of General Staff B.K. Mohammadi and ANA General Staff Chief of Operations Lt. Gen. Shir Mohammad Karimi.
Also attending were the commander, command sergeant major and senior Special Forces mentors of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan, the Afghan commandos' partnered unit.
Although the main objective of the conference was to improve the working relationship between the corps and commando kandaks, the meeting also provided an open forum in which commando leadership could discuss issues and challenges faced at the kandak level.
"The conference allowed senior leaders to review and analyze the commando operations in the past two years and to share the experience and lessons learned of commando kandak commanders throughout the country," Ahmady said. "We were able to review the challenges faced by the kandaks and work together to find solutions."
The second day of the conference featured open discussions with the leaders of different staff sections. Topics ranged from relaying the proper way to submit re-enlistment paperwork to brainstorming ways to improve secure communications among the commandos. As it turned out, officials said, the kandaks shared most of the same problems and were therefore better able to work together to find solutions.
The commando kandak commanders also highlighted the activities and achievements of their soldiers, sharing videos of training and operations. All of the commanders spoke with pride of the operational successes of their troops. The commandos combined have conducted thousands of combat operations throughout Afghanistan since their inception in 2007.
Other leaders, including the 1st Commando Kandak and 4th Commando Kandak commanders, shared the news that a great number of their troops now can read and write, thanks to language classes held within their kandaks.
The conference was not all talk. The 6th Commando Kandak conducted a demonstration of combat techniques for the distinguished conference attendees. The audience was openly impressed as the soldiers convoyed into the area and reacted to a simulated bomb blast and follow-on firefight. Next, the troops sneaked up on a mock insurgent hideout and demonstrated their close-quarter combat skills while securing the building and removing an enemy fighter.
Although the conference was an Afghan-led event and was primarily intended for Afghan leadership, Army Brig. Gen. Ed Reeder, commanding general of the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command, was invited to share his thoughts with the group.
"The spirit of this event is cooperation and coordination in the fight against the common enemy," Reeder said. "The commando kandaks and infantry kandaks provide critical capabilities in this fight, but neither can win alone. Working toward a common purpose with knowledge of one another's activities will create lethal results on the battlefield.
"The understanding and relationships you are developing today," he continued, "will unify you against the enemies of Afghanistan. Working together, you will destroy them."
The conference is tentatively slated to become a semi-annual event.
(From a joint news release issued by the Afghanistan Defense Ministry and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.)