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Afghan War News > ANA > ANASOC > Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF)

Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF)

The Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF) falls under the command of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) which is part of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Plans for the development of the ANA Special Forces were first formulated in 2009.  The beginnings of the ANASF took place in 2010 with the first element finishing their training in May 2010.  1.

CJSOTF-A.  The Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan was been the primary trainer of the Afghan National Army Special Forces.  At first, the CJSOTF-A was training the Afghan Army Commandos; but later decided to develop an Afghan Special Forces unit as well. The CJSOTF-A has since been replaced with a SOTF due to the drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

Organization and Size of the ANASF.  The original intent was to form and train an Afghan Special Forces Group.  It was planned to be about 72 Special Forces teams with about fifteen members on each team.  Of course there would be additional members who would serve in command, staff, and support roles.  As of December 2011 there were over 1,000 ANASF Soldiers. Later these ANASF units were merged into the nine Command kandaks (battalions) and the Commando battalions were renamed Special Operations Kandaks or SOKs. Two Special Operations Brigades were then formed for command and contol of the kandaks.

Recruits.  For the first several Special Forces classes the ANASF recruits came from the existing Commando Kandaks.  In order to focus on training the ANASF the formation of new Commando Kandaks was put on hold - with the total number of Commando Kandaks topped out at nine.  Later on, in a move designed to not decimate the experienced NCO and Soldier formations of the Commandos, recruits were accepted from the regular Afghan National Army (ANA).  This, quite naturally, caused a temporary dip in the recruiting and training standards of the ANASF graduate.

Training.  Training is conducted at Camp Morehead Training Center located near Kabul; Camp Morehead was later named as Camp Commando as the ANA took over more responsibility for their own national security and training.  As the ANASF training course matures there will be continuing changes in scope, content and length of training.  Initially the training was 10 weeks long; which, when conducted after the 10 week long Commando course and some time served in the Commando Kandaks will produce a qualified ANASF Soldier.  The training was increased to 15-weeks after the first two 10-week courses were completed.  At one time the ANASF detachments were partnered with a U.S. Army Special Forces team for an additional on-the-job training period.

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.

Program of Instruction for Afghan National Army Special Forces.  In the Special Forces course the primary focus is helping villages build and maintain stability.  The Afghan Special Forces mission is one of long-term support, acting as a go-between the village and the district leadership.  This is a "population-centric" approach to counterinsurgency.  In some respects, the instruction is similar to U.S. Army Special Forces training.  The ANASF training course is 15-weeks long.  However, the Soldiers are not considered "Special Forces" qualified until they have completed their 26-weeks of on-the-job training alongside a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment.  Once they complete the on-the-job or "operational training" they receive their tan berets in a ceremony.  2.

Command.  The Afghan Commandos and Afghan Special Forces were at first commanded by Brig General Dadon Lawang.  Lawang is a long-time veteran of the Afghan military.  Lawang commanded the SOF Brigade when it was composed of nine Commando Kandaks, staff, and support elements. General Lawang later became a ANA brigade commander with the 201st Corps in northeastern Afghanistan and then was promoted to Major General to become the commander of the 215th ANA Corps in southwest 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. Learn more about the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command.

UPDATE: It appears the Afghan Army SOF forces have been reconfigured into SOF Brigades with the 1st SO Brigade at Gardez, Paktiya and the 2nd SO Brigade at Kandahar (2nd SOF BDE). Within the SOF brigades are found SOF kandaks comprised of ANA Special Forces and ANA Commandos.

ANASF - "Train the Trainer".  One of the motives for establishing the ANASF was to provide a force-multiplier for U.S. SOF teams.  There are only so many U.S. (and ISAF) SOF teams that are available yet the need is so great.  ANASF soldiers are recruited, selected, trained, equipped and organized much like U.S. Army Special Forces.  Once they reach a certain level of training and garner enough experience - these ANASF teams can work along-side and then eventually independent of USSF conducting the very same missions that USSF are currently doing in Afghanistan.  A plus is they speak the language, know the culture, and can be more effective over the long run conducting missions like Village Stability Operations.


ANASF Instructor training AUP in Afghanistan

CAPTION: A member of the Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF) talks with a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) during a class in Kajran district, Daykundi province, Afghanistan in February 2012.  The ANASF are conducting a three-week training course designed to qualify AUP to instruct Afghan Local Police (ALP) candidates in basic policing, weapons handling and other skills necessary to protect and defend Afghan citizens.  (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Leistikow, CJSOTF-A Media Operations Center)

Sources of Info on ANASF

Blog Posts on ANSF by Afghan War News Blog

ANA Special Operations Command.  WikipediA.

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.

News Articles about the Afghan National Army Special Forces (ANASF)

November 8, 2017. "Afghan Special Operations graduates 19th Special Forces class", DVIDS.

October 28, 2014. "Afghan National Army trains to hold off Taliban after U.S. exit". The Washington Times. News report about status of ANASF training and capabilities.

August 19, 2014. "Afghan Special Forces Brace for Exit of Elite US Troops". Defense News.

December 19, 2013. "Indian, Afghan spl forces in first jt counter-terror exercises". Business Standard. Indian Army hosted 57 members of the ANASF in December 2013.

October 21, 2013. "Afghan Commander Joins Taliban". Radio Free Europe. An ANASF commander has defected to a militant group in Kunar province.

September 10, 2013. "Afghan Special Operations leaders discuss way ahead for commandos, special forces". DVIDS.

August 26, 2013. "ANA stands up new Special Operations Brigade in Paktya". DVIDS.

May 30, 2013. "Afghan soldier serves as right hand to Special Forces sergeant major". DVIDS. Now part of elite ANA Special Forces command.

May 16, 2013. "Afghan Special Operators 'Very Competent,' General Says". DoD News. Army MG Tony Thomas provides insight into Afghan special operations capability.

May 15, 2013. "Afghan Special Ops to Start Conducting Spy Flights". U.S. News and World Report. Special ops Afghans receiving PC-12s and Mi-17s.

May 15, 2013. "US special operations chief credits Afghan force with war's 'shift'". Stars and Stripes. BG Thomas says Afghan operators doing well.

May 15, 2013. "Special Ops Task Force Helps Shift Afghanistan Trend Line". DoD.

March 21, 2013. "Afghan National Army special forces complete well project". DIVIDS.

February 14, 2013. "Afghan army trains women as special forces soldiers to fill vacuum when foreign troops leave". Fox News.

October 30, 2012. "A Ray of Hope -- Afghan Special Operations Forces". Radio Free Europe.

January 25, 2012.  "Afghan army's night raiders ready to take control".  Reuters.

December 25, 2011.  "Training Stepped Up for Afghan Special Forces".  Fox News.

December 14, 2011.  "Afghan National Army Special Forces and coalition forces assess bridge construction in Day Kundi province".  DVIDS.

November 28, 2011.  "Afghan National Army Special Forces discover IED facility".

November 20, 2011.  "Commando training to result in 9 full-time radio stations across Afghanistan".  NTM-A.

October-December 2011.  "Game Changers: ANA Special Forces Impact the Course of Afghanistan".  By Janice Burton, Special Warfare Magazine.

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

October 27, 2010.  "ANA Special Forces team incredible".  By Sean Naylor, Outside The Wire Blog,

August 4, 2010.  "ANA Special Forces graduates vow, "We will defend Afghanistan".  ISAF News Release.

May 23, 2010.  "Afghans Create A-Teams".  Strategy Page.

May 18, 2010.  "No easy task: Making the Afghan Special Forces".  By Sean D. Naylor, Army Times.

Videos about the ANA Special Forces

April 3, 2013. "Afghan SOF Capabilities". DVIDS. MG Raymond Thomas, SOJTF-A cdr, talks about the increased capabilities of ANASF and the upcoming fighting season.



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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.  ANA special forces soldiers receive berets in ceremony.  DVIDS, November 6, 2010.  ANASF Soldiers receive their berets once they have completed the 15-week course of instruction at Camp Moorehead and their 26-week "operational training" partnered with a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment.  Accessed here Feb 2012.

3.  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.



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