KAKARAN, Afghanistan (June 25, 2012) — To best judge a teacher, look at his students' progress.
British Army Maj. Bev Allen speaks with an Afghan National Army commander during Operation Atash June 18 through 20. (Photo by Sgt. James Mercure)
During Operation Atash June 18 - 20, Afghan National Army soldiers with the 215th Corps cleared the town of Kakaran of improvised explosive devices and insurgents, while British Advisor Teams from the Brigade Advisory Group acted as a mobile quick reaction force.
"The operation was to clear the area of insurgents, IED components and IED-making facilities from the lower Gareshk valley,” said British Army Maj. Rupert King-Evans, fire support company commander, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and a London native. "The key point from this operation is that it was an Afghan operation supported by (International Security Assistance Forces) and not the other way around. The Afghans planned the operation. We only offered advice, and when they requested, we provided direct support for them.”
With more than 400 ANA soldiers involved in this operation, the insurgents strayed away from getting into a firefight, and those who did paid a heavy price.
"The sheer mass of ANA force on the ground was enough to deter the enemy and show the people the ANA are leading,” said Sgt. Maj. Nathan Love, Kandak Advisor Training Team, Headquarters 10 sergeant major and a Colchester, Essex, native. "The Taliban saw this and most of them decided not to fight, so the ANA were able to find 14 of their IEDs. For the few that did try and fight the ANA, were killed.”
For the Afghan soldiers searching the town and keeping the local residents safe, it was a point of pride to be leading a major operation.
"We have mine diffusing teams, infantry teams and many others bringing security and peace to the area,” said Jawid Afghanyar, an ANA officer with the ANA 6th Kandak, 215th Corps. "It has been a while since the (Afghan National Security Forces) have been in the area and the people now know that we will help make this area safe and secure, so the people here can continue their work in peace.”
The British soldiers mentoring the Afghans have seen and helped form the Afghan Army to the level of expertise they now show today.
"It's seriously impressive how well the ANA is operating. They are really swept up, their low-level tactics, skills and drills are excellent, and they conducted the operation almost as if they were ISAF themselves,” King-Evans said. "They've shown the local population that the Government of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army and Police are here to stay.”
Regional Command - Southwest