ANA Mobile Strike Force (MSF)
Books on Afghanistan
A recently formed and deployed unit with in the Afghan National Army (ANA) is the Mobile Strike Force or MSF. This armored, highly-mobile, quick-reaction unit is generally found within each corps region; although it works directly for commander's at the national level in Kabul. The formation, equipping and training of the MSF kandaks will cost the United States almost one billion dollars. 4. However, if executed properly and not screwed up by the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) the MSF program should provide the ANA will a robust quick reaction force.
Equipment. The Mobile Strike Force kandaks are outfitted with modern equipment to vehicles, weapons, and communications. Each kandak is supposed to have 58 MSFV's - 31 APCs with a turret, 24 APCs with Objective Gunners Protective Kit (OGPK), and three Armored Ambulances.
Mobile Strike Force Vehicle (MSFV). The MSFV is a 4x4 armored vehicle that offers a high ballistic protection and a high level of blast protection as well. In May 2011, Textron Marine & Land Systems was awarded a series of contracts by the U.S. Army contract to provide 634 MSFVs to the ANA (it is questioned whether all will go to the MSFs) as well as to provide equipment, spare parts, field service and training to the ANA. The Mobile Strike Force Vehicle is a modified variant of the M1117 ASV. The MSFV has all-wheel drive, an automatic transmission, air conditioning, and a central tire-inflation system. These vehicles were initially fielded to the ANA in February 2012.
The APCs are fitted with the 40mm/.50 caliber machine-gun turret. The vehicle carries seven personnel including the driver, gunner and commander. The average cost of the vehicle is over one million dollars. 5. See an online article 1. for more info on the MSFV.
Maintenance and Logistics for MSFVs. There are some significant challenges ahead for the Afghan National Army's Mobile Strike Force kandaks. The ANA is rife with corruption, inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and ineffectiveness. This is highly evident in the logistics and maintenance organizations. This has a drastic impact on the MSF kandaks. They will need a lot of fuel to operate their MSFVs yet the fuel allocation and distribution system for the ANA is nearly broke (a lot of the fuel is stolen by commanders and sold). The Class 9 spare parts distribution system is also broke; many of the ANA vehicles - such as the Ford Rangers - remain in bone yards throughout Afghanistan due to lack of spare parts such as tires, batteries, and fuel pumps. If the ANA can't fix their Ford Rangers how will they be expected to fix a million dollar armored vehicle? There are some who question the viability of the MSF kandak mission because of the maintenance and logistic problems 6. currently associated with the ANA. 8.
Training. The personnel assigned to the Mobile Strike Force receive extensive training from the Afghan Armor School in Kabul - totaling 18 weeks. The MSFV Operator New Equipment Training or OPNET program consists of basic MSFV operational training for the tank commander, driver and gunner for each MSFV. After the OPNET the MSF ANA soldiers train on mounted and dismounted tactics which is followed by validation training. 2. The MSF kandaks also receive additional training once they have deployed to their permanent stations; to include rough terrain drivers training. There are current efforts to continue to provide trainers to the Mobile Strike Force.
Organization and Disposition. Initial plans called for the formation and deployment of seven MSF kandaks (or battalions). Most would be located in the vicinity of Kabul and Kandahar. The Mobile Strike Force units are strategically located throughout Afghanistan. The 2nd Mobile Strike Force operates in the southern region of Afghanistan, the 3rd Mobile Strike Force operates in Helmand province. 3. Other units work or will soon work in other corps areas as well. In addition, the Afghan Special Operations Forces have two kandaks fielded as well.
May 14, 2013. "Afghan Mobile Strike Force conducts a rough terrain driving course". DVIDS. 24 photos of the MSFV.
March 6, 2014. "Mobile Strike Force Advisors Guide Afghan 3rd MSF Toward Success". DVIDS. Marines provide training on vehicle recovery. Access here.
July 2014, Afghan Mobile Strike Force
Vehicles: Contractor Met Requirements, but Long-Term Operation and
Maintenance Remain a Concern, SIGAR Report 14-85-AR.
July 4, 2016. "U.S. ditched plan to give Afghan forces more armored vehicles", Reuters. The cost of the MSFV vehicles was prohibitive and plans to field the vehicles were shelved . . . much to the discontent of the Afghans.
May 21, 2014. "Final Shipment of Afghan Quick Reaction Vehicle Headed for Kabul". Defense News.
March 1, 2014. "Mobile Strike Force advisors guide Afghan 3rd MSF toward success". DVIDS. MSF based at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan undergo training.
September 7, 2013. "Ancient Fortress marks site of advisory transition in Afghanistan". DVIDS. 1st Battalion, 1st Mobile Strike Force Brigade and SFAT "Strike 1" of the 10th Mountain Division part ways.
August 27, 2013. "Completed USACE project is new home for Afghan warriors". DVIDS. A new facility for the MSF in Helmand province is completed.
July 24, 2013. "In Afghanistan, Task Force Guam Provides Security for Mobile Strike Force". Pacific News Center. Story highlights the role that TF Guam performs as Guardian Angels for instructors who provide training to the ANA on the Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFVs).
July 17, 2013. "Corpsman Adjusts to Fast Pace of Combat". DoDLive. A US Navy Corpsman on an SFAAT saves the life of a Mobile Strike Force soldier in Helmand province.
May 16, 2013. "How the Afghan conflict will be decided". Government Executive. Article mentions General Sher Mohammad Karimi's desire for the MSFV.
March 11, 2013. "Textron to build 135 additional Mobile Strike Force Vehicles for Afghanistan". Asian Military Review.
February 22, 2013. "Textron developing 'Light Tank' for Afghan National Army". SNAFU Blog. Discussion of the MSFV - pros and cons.
February 12, 2013. "Afghan Army chief reveals future requirements, gears up to 'fight alone' in 2014". RP Defense Blog.
February 6, 2013. "Will the $55B Invested in Afghan Forces Pay Off?" Defense News. Article provides info on the quick reaction forces being stood up.
January 23, 2012. "Course brings Afghanistan step closer to having armor corps". US Central Command. The news article provides info on training the ANA on the MSFV.
January 23, 2012. "Afghan Army Getting New Quick Reaction Battalions". Aviation Week.
October 18, 2011. "Training Concerns Hover Over Delivery of Afghan Equipment". At War Blog, The New York Times. There are questions as to whether the corrupt, ineffective, and illiterate Afghan National Army logistics and maintenance system can actually maintain the one million dollar MSFV.
For more detailed information on the MSFV see
Mobile Strike Force Vehicle (MSFV), Afghanistan
2. For more info on MSF training see Afghan troops begin training with Mobile Strike Force Vehicle, army.mil, May 3, 2012., www.army.mil/article/79248/ and also New armor boosts ANA capabilities, ISAF, Sep 5, 2012, www.isaf.nato.int/article/armor . . ..
3. For more on the 2nd Mobile Strike Force click on this DVIDS news report here.
4. See "Is Afghanistan ready to defend itself?", The Christian Science Monitor, June 25, 2013.
5. For more statistics and photos of the MSFV see a product info sheet on
6. For more on maintenance challenges associated with the MSFV see "Afghan
forces struggle to maintain US equipment", Alaska Dispatch, April
7. For more on contractors to be hired as MSF trainers see "Mobile Strike
Force Company Trainer", Clearance Jobs, July 23, 2013.
8. For more on logistic problems of the Mobile Strike Force units see "Afghan quick reaction force slowed by logistic failures", Marine Corps Times, July 29, 2014 at this link.