Colonel John R. Shafer, commanding officer, Regimental Combat Team 6, shakes hands with Maj. Sadik, operations officer, 4th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, after a meeting July 27, 2012. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Buckwalter)
COMBAT OUTPOST FIDDLERS GREEN, Afghanistan (August 6, 2012) — The future success of Afghanistan’s security depends largely on the abilities of the country’s armed forces.
In southern Helmand province, Marines have been training and advising Afghan National Army soldiers on how to be a military force, helping lay the foundation for the ANA’s future success. Training runs the gamut from basic infantry training to administrative and logistical support.
At Combat Outpost Fiddlers Green, Marines are advising an Afghan combat support kandak, the 4th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps. A kandak is the Afghan Army equivalent to a battalion. Combat support includes combat engineers, artillery and reconnaissance assets.
Colonel John R. Shafer, commanding officer, Regimental Combat Team 6, recently met with 4th Kandak leadership to get an update on their progress.
“We pay attention to our responsibilities,” Maj. Mohammad Naim, 4th Kandak’s executive officer, said. His soldiers, he added, regularly go out on foot patrols and man checkpoints in their area of operations.
“I am extremely impressed with your soldiers,” Shafer said to Naim about the kandak’s enthusiasm, patriotism and their rapid growth.
The team who had been working with Naim and his soldiers recently left Afghanistan.
Captain Douglas Wacker, the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, combat support advisor team executive officer, is part of the new team. They’ve trained for four months on how to advise Afghans. He said they are eager to work with and earn the trust of their Afghan counterparts, who he said are professional, capable soldiers.
Naim said the previous advisor team working with his soldiers “helped us tremendously.” He, too, is eager to work with the new group of Marine advisors.
“One thing I guarantee, whenever the Marines ask us to go anywhere, we are ready,” said Naim.
With the new team comes a shift in the relationship between the Marine advisors and Afghan soldiers, said Shafer. The ANA is at the point where they have proven they’re ready to do things on their own.
“You need to start telling the advisor team what they need to do for you,” Shafer said during his meeting with kandak leadership. The advisor team is ready to fill in gaps where needed, he said, but the ANA at Fiddlers Green needs to start planning and doing their own operations.
Wacker, from Seattle, said the goal of his team is to fully transition the responsibility of combat support to the Afghan kandak. He said he would like to see the 4th Kandak here be able to supply, maintain and provide all the combat support for the ANA in the area.
“If they can figure out how to do that with the chain of command, then they’ll be very successful,” said Wacker.