Afghanistan — General Praises Afghan Commandos’ Capabilities

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 — The NATO train­ing mis­sion in Afghanistan is work­ing with Afghan com­man­dos on the road to self-suf­fi­cien­cy.
“We do have a lot of chal­lenges here, but a gem in the Afghan Army are the com­man­dos,” Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg, the organization’s deputy com­man­der for Army forces, said dur­ing an April 10 “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table.

Hogg described the com­man­dos as “high-end” fight­ers. Sev­en com­man­do bat­tal­ions per­form the entire spec­trum of mil­i­tary work, he said, includ­ing increas­ing counter-insur­gency capa­bil­i­ties.

“They do the full spec­trum that would you expect from a high-end light infantry force,” he said.

The com­man­dos are con­sid­ered an elite force, and they’re trained in advanced infantry skills as well as being skilled in tac­tics. They also have a low attri­tion rate, Hogg said, because they are paid more than oth­er sol­diers, they’re part­nered with oth­er forces, and they have a more pre­dictable work sched­ule.

“It is all about hon­or and being a part of Afghanistan,” he said. “They say, ‘It’s my coun­try and my duty to serve.’ They believe in their coun­try.” The train­ing mis­sion is try­ing to do more to recruit com­man­dos. Recruiters are going out to the lead­ers in the Afghan com­mu­ni­ty for rec­om­men­da­tions and are adver­tis­ing. “We are going to tar­get more folks from the south­ern sec­tor to come into the army,” Hogg said, not­ing that area is less well rep­re­sent­ed in the army’s ranks than the north. Hogg said 8,000 new recruits joined the army in Decem­ber, and that he’d like to main­tain those num­bers on the recruit­ing front.

“The recruit­ing is going good,” he said, but he acknowl­edged that some his­tor­i­cal­ly tough recruit­ing times are ahead. With more agri­cul­tur­al and sea­son­al jobs open­ing, he said, he hopes to still be able to reach the goal of 134,000 sol­diers in the Afghan army. Afghanistan cur­rent­ly has 112,700 sol­diers.

“We are mak­ing a lot of progress,” Hogg said, “but we have a lot of chal­lenges ahead of us. I think the oper­a­tions that will hap­pen are an indi­ca­tion of the direc­tion we are head­ing.”

The blog­gers round­table was held in con­junc­tion with the 2010 Mil­blog Con­fer­ence, which brought togeth­er mil­i­tary blog­gers and sup­port­ers to dis­cuss the rewards and chal­lenges of social media in a mil­i­tary envi­ron­ment. Price Floyd, prin­ci­pal deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for pub­lic affairs, par­tic­i­pat­ed in the ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion. Floyd asked Hogg about the role of blog­ging and social media in Afghanistan, and whether deployed ser­vice­mem­bers are encour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in social media.

Hogg replied that Army Lt. Gen. William V. Cald­well IV, com­man­der of NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan, is a strong pro­po­nent of social media and blogs.

“It is absolute­ly encour­aged to blog,” Hogg said. “Social net­work­ing [and] blog­ging is a big deal for the com­mand, and that is because Gen­er­al Cald­well has made it a big deal for us, and it is a way to edu­cate and inform what we are doing out there.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)