Afghan Army Kandaks to Deploy from Kabul with Fully Trained Mortar Teams
Afghan National Army kandaks (battalions) preparing to deploy from the Kabul Military Training Center Consolidated Fielding Center will now have fully trained mortar teams to support them in battle.
Mortar teams of the 1st Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 209 Corps demonstrated their proficiency Sept. 8 during the first live mortar fire exercise held at CFC. Pvt. Ahktar Mohammad’s team shot 15 mortar rounds and scored 12 hits during the exercise.
“I came in to the ANA to serve my country and clean up my country from insurgents,” he said. “I’m getting my practice and I’m brushing up on my skills and this is going to help me on the front line with the enemy.”
Firing 82 mm rounds with a range of up to 3,400 meters, the three-man mortar teams can deliver devastating indirect fire on enemy positions. Unlike support elements such as artillery and close air support, which commands must request from higher headquarters, mortar teams are integral parts of the kandaks.
“You own it and you can call it down whenever you need it,” said British army Maj. Garry Pinchen, CFC operations and training officer. “If you get three guns working together, that’s massive.”
ANA instructors trained the teams with U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-22 Infantry, 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division standing by to provide guidance as needed.
“They’re really running the show,” said US Army Capt. Brian Retherford, commanding officer of Alpha Company of the 2-22.
Since the soldiers of the “Triple Deuce” arrived as advisors in January, a total of 22 kandaks have completed training at CFC. However, this is the first kandak that has trained mortar teams as cohesive units prior to deployment.
With a gunline set up at Range 2A1 at CFC between the Hindu Kush mountain range and Garib Ghar peak, the mortar teams showed the head of the ANA, Lt. Gen. Amin-Ullah Karim, their ability to accurately deliver rounds on target. Setting up each position with a baseplate, a barrel and a tripod, the three teams estimated the range, deflection and elevation, and shot one round each to observe its fall. They then adjusted their fire and fired five rounds each for effect.
With the feast of Eid marking the end of Ramazan just days away, Karim recognized that the deployed soldiers could not be at home with their families. He told them to be strong and to remember that though they represent different tribes, while fighting for Afghanistan in the ANA, they are all brothers in arms.
“The only request I have for you is that you have good morale,” he said. “Have the feast for Afghanistan, for the people of Afghanistan.”
Article by Chief Petty Officer Brian Brannon, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan