Feb. 21, 2008 —
Afghan National Army soldiers fire rounds from a 122mm Russian howitzer in Ghazni Province during a new 21-day program enabling the ANA a new fire support capability. (U.S. Army Photo)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Feb. 19, 2008) — A new program instructing Afghan National Army soldiers to effectively provide indirect artillery fire is due to graduate its first platoon in Paktya Province Feb. 25, according to a Combined Joint Task Force-82 official.
The 21-day program instructs ANA soldiers on NATO firing tactics, techniques and procedures converting them for use with Russian 122 mm howitzers. The field artillery course focuses on fire direction and gun-line procedures allowing the ANA to compute all firing data.
“This program will allow the ANA to operate independently from Coalition forces,” said Army Maj. Daryl Fullerton, deputy fires chief, CJTF-82. “All indirect-fire assets are U.S. assets in eastern Afghanistan. As the ANA continues to grow and conduct operations independently, they will need a means of fire support.”
Fullerton explained the ANA bases need counter battery fire in Afghanistan because insurgents routinely attack with 107mm rockets and other less effective fire.
“These platoons will be able to effectively return fire at the conclusion of their training,” Fullerton said. “Even if the ANA doesn’t kill the enemy’s point of origin, their ability to provide indirect fire will discourage the enemy from using more effective forms of artillery as they won’t have the comfort of firing from a safe position.”
According to Fullerton, the ANA have traditionally used artillery as a direct-fire asset because trainers were in short supply and the ANA lacked equipment or were unfamiliar with the little artillery assets they had.
“Once they’ve proven capable to provide maneuver elements indirect-fire support, they won’t be tasked away from this training any longer because the ANA will realize what an advantage this provides their soldiers,” Fullerton continued. “This will allow for more consistent training, which will provide ANA soldiers who specialize in fire support. They’ve been learning very fast and progressing every day.”
The culmination of the training Feb. 25 will include the ANA conducting a live-fire for certification and then the platoon will be sent out to perform missions, said Army Capt. Brandl Bell, 4th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment. He said ANA platoons will continue circulating into the course to keep their training and proficiency to Army standards.
Fullerton said there is one ANA soldier serving as an instructor at the course with plans to expand more ANA involvement as instructors in the near future. He also said plans to add other courses in north-eastern Afghanistan are planned.
The ANA has grown to more than 47,000 soldiers and mission is to provide land defense against external and internal threats, according to CJTF-82.