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Afghan War News > Security > Afghan National Army Commandos


Afghan National Army Commandos


The Afghan National Army Commandos are under the control of the Ministry of Defense (MoD).   1.  The commando units are an elite, quick-reaction infantry-based force that can act independently.  Each of the regional Afghan Corps have a Commando Kandak.

Early History of Commandos.  The first two battalions were formed in 2007 from an existing conventional battalion.  The concept for the commandos was developed by the CJSOTF-A.  The initial Afghan cadre received training in 2006 in Jordan.  3.

CJSOTF-A.  The Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan have been the primary trainers of the Afghan National Army Commandos. The parent organization for the CJSOTF-A is the Special Operations Joint Task Force - Afghanistan (SOJTF-A).

Afghan Army Commandos listen to OPORD briefing
Afghan commandos listen to OPORD briefing (photo SGT Ben Tuck)

Organization and Size of the Commandos.  There are (as of January 2012) nine Commando Kandaks (battalions) in the Afghan National Army. There had been plans for a total of twelve Commando Kandaks; however the decision to form the Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF) put the expansion of the Commandos on hold.  There are over 5,000 personnel in the Afghan Commandos; with about 700 men in each of the nine Kandaks. There are tentative plans to establish a 10th Commando Kandak in 2015.

Training.  All recruits for the commandos must first complete the 10-week long Afghan basic training course.  They then attend the commando course which is ten to twelve weeks long.  Training is conducted at Camp Morehead Commando Training Center located about six miles south of Kabul, Afghanistan.  The commando units train and operate very much like the U.S. Ranger battalions.  The training program includes intensive individual and small-unit tactics and movement techniques while under fire.  In addition, the commandos are taught mortars, sniper fire, close-quarter battle (CQB) tactics, combat lifesaving, tactical driving, land navigation, and reconnainssance techniques.

Trainers.  Select members of the Afghan Army Commandos are the primary instructors.  These Afghan instructors have been assisted in the past and/or are assisted by mentors from U.S. Army Special Forces, French Special Forces, and some contractors working for a PMC.

Advisors. Some selected Afghan Special Operations units will continue to have assigned advisors for the remainder of 2013 and for most of 2014. These advisors will certainly work with the Special Operations brigades and may also continue to work with the Special Operations kandaks. 4.

Program of Instruction for Afghan Commandos.  During the Commando training the Soldiers learn advanced combat marksmanship, small unit tactics, demolitions, direct action, cordon and search, search and attack missions, ambush, and leadership skills.

Command.  The Afghan Commandos were commanded by Brig General Dadon Lawang.  Lawang is a long-time veteran of the Afghan military.  He went on to be the commander of 4th Brigade 201st Corps in eastern Afghanistan and then in December of 2014 appointed as commander of the 215th Corps in southwestern Afghanistan.

ANA Special Operations Command (ANASOC).  This division sized headquarters grew from the SOF Brigade when the ANA decided to expand the ANASF and build support elements to augment the Commandos and ANASF.  The ANA Commandos will be the 'direct action"  force while the 1st Special Forces Brigade will conduct internal defense, reconnaissance, and direct action missions.  Planned for the future are two Commando brigades, one Special Forces brigade, one training brigade, one support brigade, and one strategic battalion.

Equipment.  The commandos use U.S. weapons, tan Ford Ranger 4x4 pickups, and older versions of U.S. uniforms. Upon graduating from the commando course the students don their red berets which becomes part of their uniform.  Issued weapons include M4 carbines, M240 machineguns, and M249 squad automatic weapons.  The commandos are even equipped with night vision goggles 2. and Oakley sunglasses. 3.

Camp Commando. The training facility for the ANA SOF is at Camp Commando. The camp was known as Camp Morehead when run by the U.S. Special Forces.


Sources of Info on Afghan Commandos

Blog Posts about ANA Commandos by Afghan War News Blog
http://afghanwarnews.blogspot.com/search/label/Commando-Kandaks

ANA Special Operations Command.  WikipediA.

ANA Commando Brigade.  WikipediA.

Afghan National Army Commandos.  Facebook.


Photos of Afghan Army Commandos

ANA Commando Photos.  Facebook - Afghan National Army Commandos.

Photos of Afghan National Army Commando Patches.  OEFOIF Forum.

ADM Stavridis Meets Afghan National Army Commandos.  Flickr.

Afghan National Army Commando Graduation.  Flickr.com.

Photos of ANA Commandos.  Wikemedia Commons.

RPG Practice.  Photo of an 8th Commando Kandak soldier firing a rocket-propelled grenade in Tarin Kowt district, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on February 2, 2012.  Posted on The Long War Journal here.


Videos of Afghan National Army Commandos

Commandos - The Special Forces Unit in Afghanistan's Army, NATO Channel, February 6, 2014. Video describes the training requirments for belonging to the Commandos. (4 mins).
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT5uklT43hQ

Afghan Commandos Respond to Call of Duty, NATO Channel TV, November 13, 2014. This 5-min video profiles the 7th Special Operations Kandak at Camp Shorabak, Helmand province.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFsGn5QQ27c

Commando Conference. MG Raymond Thomas, SOJTF-A cdr, talks about the ANA Commandos during conference at Camp Moorehead. DVIDS, April 3, 2013.
www.dvidshub.net/video/285740/commando-conference#.UV5YUpP-GSo

Afghan Commandos Lead the Way.  Posted on YouTube by Regional Command East, November 2, 2011.  6-1 Kandak.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPyQf3C5-x0

Training Afghan Commandos.  Posted on YouTube by DVIDS - Filmed by NATO Channel, August 3, 2010.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zExhQ80ZXuU

Afghan Air Force transports Afghan Commandos.  Posted on YouTube by CSTC-A on October 26, 2010.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBizbNqx7oc

Afghan Command Training.  Posted on YouTube by DoDvClips on August 25, 2009.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baE4phU6HAo

Special Forces Train Afghan Commandos.  Posted on YouTube by ISAF Media on December 13, 2009.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1pX8BxQT34

Elite Afghan Commando Team.  ANA Commandos conduct night-time operations against insurgents.  Posted on YouTube by ISAF Media on August 21, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnaL1qVFd8o

Humanitarian Aid Efforts.  Coalition and Afghan Commandos provide aid in Paktika Province.  Posted by USFOR-A on YouTube on July 3, 2009.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvz6rKZB9ew

6th Commandos Conduct Demolitions Training.  Posted by DVIDS on YouTube on April 13, 2011.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-Tg9WNcDWs

See more videos of Afghan National Army Commandos on YouTube here.


News Articles about the Afghan National Army Commandos

April 27, 2015. "With the U.S. in the Background, Afghan Commandos Step It Up", National Public Radio (NPR). Training of the commandos is highlighted as well information about the ANASOC Sergeant Major Faiz Mohammed Wafa.

January 8, 2015. "Watchdog: Afghan commando camp plagued with electricity and refueling problems". The Washington Post. See report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), SIGAR 15-25 Inspection Report, ANA Camp Commando Phase II: Power Plant and Fuel Point Not Fully Operational Nearly Two Years after Project Completion, January 2015.
http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/inspections/SIGAR-15-25-IP.pdf

December 15, 2014. "With U.S. leaving, elite Afghan commandos take up mission". Fayetteville Observer. The U.S. Special Forces is downsizing its presence in Afghanistan to a battalion; but the capability of the Afghan commandos has grown.

November 14, 2014. "Afghan commandos respond to call of duty". Khaama Press.

May 26, 2013. "5th Special Operations Kandak defeating insurgents on multiple fronts". DVIDS. Commandos based in Camp Shaheen conduct opns in Balkh province.

May 15, 2013. "Afghan Commandos Step Up Their Combat Role". The New York Times. BG James E. Kraft, Deputy Commander for the SOJTF-A is quoted.

April 16, 2013. "2nd SOK rescues 16 villagers from Taliban prison". DVIDS. the 2nd Special Operations Kandak conducts clearing operation in Taga district, Kapisa province.

April 4, 2013. "Afghan commando spearheads transition efforts". DVIDS. Article about SGM Fiaz Wafa of the Afghan commandos.

April 3, 2013. "8th SOK conducts first humanitarian aid mission". DVIDS.  8th SOK provides HA in Tarin Kowt district, Uruzgan province.

March 13, 2013. "Afghan commandos support US mentors during Jalrez attack". DVIDS. 3rd Company, 6th Special Operations Kandak (SOK) reponds to insider attack.

March 7, 2013. "Afghan air force conducts air assault with Afghan special ops". USAF. The Afghan 379th Rotary Wind Squadron is now operational.

December 27, 2012. "An Inside Look at the Afghan Commandos". SOFREP.

November 8, 2012. "Commandos and coalition forces conduct large scale clearing operation". Regional Command East.  Chak District, Wardak Province cleared.

January 2, 2012.  "Afghan Commandos and coalition conduct operations in Faiz Abad Horn".  NTM-A.

December 29, 2011.  "Afghan Commandos practice medical evacuations".  Army.mil.  Medics from Afghan National Army's 5th Commando Kandak train in Mazar-E Sharif.

August 26, 2011.  "Afghan National Army Commandos Conduct Clearing Operation in Kalach".  ISAF News.  Commando operation is in support of the Afghan Local Police.

August 22, 2011.  "Afghan National Army Commandos Led Clearing Operation in Zabul".  ISAF News.  Operation took place in Karatashe Ulya village, Sha Joy District.

July 22, 2011.  "On the frontline with UAE forces in Helmand". The National.  Alex Gardiner reports about a patrol comprised of Afghan Commandos, U.S. Special Forces, and UAE Special Forces.

May 27, 2011.  "Afghan Army commandos graduate first master drivers course".  NTM-A.

May 9, 2011.  "Afghan National Army update, May 2011".  The Long War Journal.

December 3, 2010.  "Commandos enable spread of Afghan radio, culture".  Army.mil. Afghan commandos spread the word of "Radio Heela".

August 18, 2010.  "Afghan Army Grows by More than 900 Commandos".  DVIDS.  Graduates will form the 9th Commando "Cobra" Kandak (battalion).

August 8, 2010.  "U.S. Special Forces train Afghans in own image, success could lead to troop withdrawals in region".  New York Daily News.

May 18, 2010.  "No easy task: Making the Afghan Special Forces".  By Sean D. Naylor, Army Times.  Members of the Commando Kandaks are recruited into the Afghan National Army Special Forces.

April 12, 2010.  "General Praises Afghan Commandos' Capabilities".  American Forces Press Service.

October 6, 2009.  "SF team sgt. lauds Afghan aid in Shok Valley".  Army Times.

September 12, 2009.  "Commandos' esprit de corps transcends tribe".  MSNBC.

July 3, 2009.  "Incorruptible Commandos Sign of Hope for Afghanistan's Future".  Fox News.

June 1, 2009.  "Training the Elite Afghan Commandos".  NPR. Story and photos about 6th Commando Kandak of the 207th Corps.

May 20, 2009.  "Afghan Commandos Kill 18 Enemy Fighters in Helmand Province".  American Forces Press Service.

May 18, 2009.  "Afghan Army Conference Joins Commandos, Leaders".  American Forces Press Service.  6th Commando Kandak provided demonstration of capabilities.

February 15, 2009.  "Afghan Commandos capture suspected weapons facilitator in Farah Province".  US Central Command.

July-August 2008.  "New Gear for Afghan Commandos".  Army Logistician.  The ANA 1st Commando Kandak is fitted with U.S. military equipment.

May 8, 2008.  "Americans build elite Afghan Commando force".  The Christian Science Monitor.

February 13, 2008.  "Commandos Capture Key Taliban Leader".  Army.mil.

January 25, 2008.  "Afghan commandos make presence known in volatile Tag Ab Valley".  RC-East.com.

September 14, 2007.  "Afghan Commandos Nab Taliban Leader in First Raid".  American Forces Press Service.

July 23, 2007.  "New Afghan Commandos Take to the Frontlines".  NPR.

June 4, 2007.  "Gates Visits New Afghan Commando Training Site".  American Forces Press Service.


 

 

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Endnotes

1.  Afghan Commandos Add Special Forces.  DVIDS, May 13, 2010.  The first Afghan National Army Special Forces class graduated on May 12, 2010.  Accessed here Feb 2012.

2.   Solicitation for NVGs for Commandos by FedBizOpss.gov.  The Afghan National Army Commandos have been issued night vision goggles.  Accessed here Feb 2012.

3.  Jordan has been a staunch ally of the U.S. See "Q&A with Brigadier General Edward M. Reeder Jr.", Special Warfare Center and School, October-December 2011 edition of Special Warfare.  Accessed here Feb 2012.

4. For more on advisors and trainers from USSF read a story about a 5th SFG unit working with the ANA SOF in Herat entitled "US Special Forces shape the future of Afghan special operations", DVIDS, October 19, 2013 accessed here.


 

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