For the second time since the founding of the Artillery School at Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), Afghan National Army (ANA) students conducted a live-fire gunnery exercise, Dec. 26.
The event marked the culmination of 11 weeks of artillery theory and practical application training. The 55 students learned how to deploy the guns, gun maintenance, map reading and literacy. Upon graduation from the course, and after nine weeks of further training at the Consolidated Fielding Center (CFC), the soldiers will join the 205th Corps as fully-qualified gunners.
During the exercise the Afghan students, instructed by ANA soldiers and officers and coalition mentors, fired the 122mm howitzer in a variety of scenarios. Through the exercise, students were tested on the process of artillery firing and were expected to fire the guns in missions simulating the support of troops in close contact with the enemy.
Students were required to perform in all three roles necessary for a successful artillery operation - direction of fire by the forward observation officer, coordination of the guns by the command post and the firing of guns by the gun crews.
This event represents a major achievement for the ANA and their coalition advisers. Prior to May, there was not an Afghan artillery school, Afghans instructors or an established knowledge base artillery doctrine. In just a few months a fully-functioning artillery training establishment was created and is graduating competent gunners.
The students demonstrated the quality of their training during their first shoot mission with the guns quickly neutralizing the target, an enemy vehicle in open ground.
"The soldiers here have been taught the NATO system of artillery, which is an excellent and accurate one," Commander of the Artillery School Col. Amin Kohstani said. "They have performed well and learned from their instructors."
Kohstani emphasized that these soldiers were fully ready for deployment to combat operations, and thanked the coalition mentors for their support.
The school's Artillery Training Team Kabul (ATT-K) coalition mentor team is an Australian led unit consisting of forty-four officers and soldiers from five different countries, Australia, Singapore, Mongolia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
"ATT-K is responsible for building up the ANA artillery capacity from the bottom up," ATT-K Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Kane Mangin, said. "We have been mentoring the ANA instructors to develop their body of artillery knowledge. It's a long path to achieve this, but we have an excellent relationship with our Afghan Army colleagues."
Artillery school instructors teach all essential artillery skills to soldiers and officers offering nine courses to train basic skills and provide further professional development for more advanced personnel.
The development of indigenous artillery capacity within the ANA demonstrates the ANA becoming a fully-independent armed force with the complete set of capabilities for ensuring the future security of Afghanistan.
Article by LT Christopher Kent, Great Britain