Afghan Commando’s elite force multiplies
CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan – Commandos—one can tell who they are by the distinctive patch and red beret they wear, but even when not in uniform there’s a way they carry themselves that sets them apart. They are professionals and are proud to be part of a force that’s respected by the people, and feared by the enemy.
On Aug 18, this elite brotherhood took another giant step forward adding more than 1,100 warriors to its esteemed ranks.
The 9th Commando Kandak graduation that occurred at Camp Morehead, Kabul may have been a ceremony that occurred eight times before, but there’s nothing commonplace about what it means to Afghanistan.
“It’s amazing how far the Afghan Commando Program has come in just three short years,” said Army Maj. Kevin Trujillo, the incoming Advanced Operational Base commander at Camp Morehead. “When you put it into perspective how long it’s taken other countries to get to where Afghanistan is now, you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.”
The first Commando Kandak, or battalion, graduated in July 2007. Since then, Commandos have earned the reputation of being a disciplined, well-trained, and incorruptible force.
Great care is taken to select soldiers from the Afghan National Army with integrity and honor, a step necessary in gaining public trust and support in a country previously riddled with violence and military corruption. Trujillo said the Commandos are also better trained and equipped, making them a formidable adversary to those who seek to oppress Afghan citizens.
“This is an unforgettable moment,” said Afghan Lt. Gen. Mohammed Akram, Afghanistan’s first deputy chief of staff, to the new graduates. “All ethnicities, all ages—whether young or old—trust you. The uniform you wear represents your commitment to the people; it’s a symbol of your responsibility to them and your country. Wear it proudly and remember what makes you different is your bravery, skill, and how you care.”
During the ceremony, the new soldiers swapped their boonie hats for berets in a visual transition from trainees to Commandos, and then recited the Commando creed.
In unison, the ANA’s newest Commando additions stated how they are volunteer Commandos, how the Afghan people have high expectations of them, and how they are ready to assume that responsibility. They stressed how they will never leave a fallen comrade behind and how they will fight to the end, even if they are the last one standing.
The conviction with which they vowed to do their duties was no surprise to those in attendance and Afghan Brig. Gen. Dadon Lawang, 1st Commando Brigade commander, said he knows they are ready to defend their country and chase down the enemy. He also thanked U.S. and Coalition mentors for their vital part in this momentous occasion.
The next step for the 9th Commando Kandak is to put their advanced training to practical use as they leave Camp Morehead ready, willing, and able to defend and serve the people and government of Afghanistan.
“This is progress,” said Lawang to the graduates bestowed the nickname ‘Cobras’ by the DCOS during the ceremony. “Long life to Afghanistan; may God keep the Commandos brave and successful.”
Article by Technical Sergeant Gloria Wilson, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center