Afghan Forces Receive NATO Weapons

By Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Shawn Gra­ham
Spe­cial to Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 9, 2008 — Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces will receive a huge capa­bil­i­ty and mobil­i­ty boost through­out the next year with more than 6,000 up-armored vehi­cles and more than 75,000 M‑16 rifles from Com­bined Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Com­mand Afghanistan.

Combined Security Transition Command
Ser­vice­mem­bers assigned to Com­bined Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Com­mand Afghanistan’s armored vehi­cle field­ing team stand in front of more than 300 vehi­cles that will be issued to the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces, Oct. 5, 2008. Dur­ing the next year, more than 6,000 vehi­cles will be issued through­out the coun­try.
U.S. Navy pho­to by Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Shawn Gra­ham

“This is great,” said Army Maj. Charles McPhail, the command’s chief of plans and require­ments. “The Afghan Nation­al Army will become a mod­ern­ized army, with Humvees and NATO weapons. This trans­for­ma­tion will help ush­er their forces into the 21st cen­tu­ry.”

McPhail cit­ed the M‑16 rifle’s accu­ra­cy and dura­bil­i­ty since its intro­duc­tion as the pri­ma­ry weapon for the U.S. mil­i­tary more than 30 years ago. The Russ­ian-built AK-47 has been the pri­ma­ry weapon of the Afghan Nation­al Army since its for­ma­tion, but Afghan gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary lead­ers pre­fer the stur­dy M‑16 rifle.

“Accu­ra­cy will always be more impor­tant than lots of shots,” McPhail said. “They want­ed a weapon that does­n’t waste shots. That’s the rea­son the Afghan gov­ern­ment asked for the M‑16.”

Afghan Nation­al Army Maj. Hasim Habi­ual­lah, a com­pa­ny com­man­der assigned to a for­ward deploy­ing bat­tal­ion, said the weapons and vehi­cles will allow Afghan sol­diers to pro­tect the coun­try more effec­tive­ly.

“Our sol­diers like these weapons,” he said. “Some of them have already qual­i­fied with the M‑16 rifle. All this new equip­ment will help us rid Afghanistan of the Tal­iban.”

Afghan forces’ mobil­i­ty will be great­ly enhanced by the addi­tion of more than 6,000 Humvees. The Humvee is the most com­mon­ly deployed tac­ti­cal vehi­cle used by the U.S. armed forces and NATO.

“The Humvees are already pre­ferred because of the heavy armor,” Habi­ual­lah said. “All of our sol­diers real­ize that it is safer to trav­el in them, too. These vehi­cles will give us an edge in bat­tle we did­n’t have before.”

Afghan secu­ri­ty forces already have received near­ly 600 Humvees and more than 6,000 M‑16 rifles. Afghan sol­diers will be trained in the oper­a­tion and main­te­nance of the new weapons and vehi­cles at Kab­ul Mil­i­tary Train­ing Cen­ter.

(Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Shawn Gra­ham serves in the Com­bined Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Com­mand Afghanistan Pub­lic Affairs Office.)

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