Friday, June 18, 2010

Scots soldiers mentor Afghan forces in Helmand's green zone

Soldiers from the First Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS), are partnering and mentoring the Afghan National Army (ANA) deep in the green zone near Nad 'Ali in Helmand province.

The Afghan patrol commander and Major Mark Suddaby on a joint patrol

1 SCOTS provide Advisory Teams to the Afghan National Security Forces and have been carrying out operations and training alongside their Afghan colleagues.

Major Mark Suddaby said:

"We have now become advisory teams. In each of the Kandak or Tolay locations (types of ANA units) we have a two man team which is usually an officer and a sergeant. Their job is to advise and mentor the ANA in their everyday duties, operations and administration."

The advisory teams mirror the locations of the ISAF and ANA ground holding troops. In these locations, ANA troops are partnering with ISAF forces to allow them to learn necessary military skills:

"We mentor them on their patrols, we help them with the planning of those patrols, and we go through after action reviews with them.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Afghan National Army train together

"We also look at their living conditions and see what we can do to improve these.

"It really goes across all the strands, from manning through to operations, through to planning, signals etc…we're trying to build the ANA into a modern army," said Major Suddaby.

The 1 SCOTS team in each location decides on the areas that the ANA needs to develop and conducts lessons using both demonstrations and interpreters. Recently, Fourth Tolay has undertaken training in casualty extraction drills, what to do under fire and administration on operations.

Instructor Corporal Kevin Hope commented:

"Actions speak louder than words when doing this, so if we do a lot of demos they pick it up a lot quicker than if we just speak to them. What they see they will do."

"Today we have been working with the Fourth Tolay ANA to bring them on with their casualty extraction drills.

The Afghan patrol commander (right) and Major Mark Suddaby (left) shake hands after another successful patrol

"It is important for future ops together, we need to know that if an ISAF soldier falls or ANA soldier falls, we are singing off the same song sheet. So today we have just spent three hours going through our casualty extraction drills."

Fourth Tolay will be conducting a range of joint operations with the Combined Force Nad 'Ali over the coming months.

Supporting the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan Security Forces, through training and mentoring, is an essential part of NATO's strategy in Afghanistan.

The sooner the Afghans can take responsibility for their own security and carry out security operations without the need for ISAF support, ensuring the long-term security and stability of the country, the sooner British forces can come home.

Pictures: Cpl Barry LLoyd, RLC

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