At Camp Hero, an Afghan base near Kandahar, 23 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) members of the 205th Coalition Advisory Team (CAT), led by Australian Colonel John Simeoni, advise and mentor the regional headquarters staff of the Afghan National Army (ANA).
The 205th CAT comprises Australian, British, Dutch, Canadian and American forces and of its 23 mentors, nine are Australian. Their mission is to mentor the ANA’s 205th Hero Corps in key areas, such as operations, medical and logistical support in support of the Afghan Government’s aim of transitioning lead responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014.
Colonel Simeoni describes his role as being to support the establishment and training of the ANA to independence.
“I advise Brigadier General Abdul Hamid, Commander 205th Hero Corps, on command issues ranging from personnel management to operational decision-making”, he said.
The 205th Hero Corps has recently grown to approximately 16,000 Afghan troops and has responsibility for four provinces in the south of Afghanistan including Uruzgan, where the majority of Australian troops are based.
Soldiers of the 205th Corps have participated in a number of recent and ongoing major operations both in Helmand Province and Kandahar Province in Southern Afghanistan. They were also responsible for the provision of security during September’s Afghan elections.
Engagement with insurgents is a frequent occurrence for the soldiers of 205th Hero Corps and the CAT who often work in high pressure and stressful conditions.
“The role of the 205th CAT is not to give orders to their Afghan counterparts, or do work on their behalf to simply get the job done. The team supports Afghans as they assess, analyse and solve Afghan problems,” Colonel Simeoni said.
“Advising can be very challenging but we are working with what is essentially the future of this country and that’s exciting.”
The work of the CAT is greatly appreciated by Commander 205th Hero Corps Brigadier General Hamid. After previously serving as the 4th Brigade Commander in Uruzgan, he has a strong affinity with Australians.
General Hamid said he is pleased with the progress of the 205th Hero Corps this year, in particular with the success of recent operations by the 4th Brigade in conjunction with Australian and other ISAF troops.
“I am very happy, I had a significant relationship with Australians and I was very happy with them and my troops are very happy, they have a good relationship and they are working side by side like brothers I think.”
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