Australian-trained Afghan National Army (ANA) artillerymen achieved an historic milestone this week, officially opening their new School of Artillery in Kabul with a spectacular live-fire demonstration by Afghan Artillery Instructors.
The school, which will prepare Afghan soldiers to become skilled artillerymen, is an important step towards Afghan security forces taking full responsibility for security in the coming years.
Speaking at the opening, the ANA Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Sher Mohammad Karimi, outlined the importance of the school and thanked Australia for its contribution as the lead partner nation.
“I would like to show thanks and appreciation to all our friends, especially the Australians and Americans, who taught our soldiers how to use the guns,” Lieutenant General Karimi said.
“It’s a big achievement for the ANA and I’m sure there will be more improvement for our artillery soldiers in the future.”
The opening followed several months of training and gunnery drills provided to the Afghan instructors by Australian artillerymen from the 8th/12th Medium Regiment. The training culminated last week with the successful first live firing of their D-30 Howitzer artillery guns.
During his recent visit to Afghanistan, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith announced Australia would commit up to 20 artillery trainers to the school. These artillery trainers will be drawn from within the existing Australian troop presence in Afghanistan of around 1550 personnel.
The school has now commenced its inaugural Artillery Basic Officer’s Training Course run by the newly qualified Afghan Instructors. The school will train 2100 officers and soldiers over the next twelve months, with around 440 students attending one of nine different courses at any one time.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Vagg, Commanding Officer of the Artillery Training Team – Kabul, said the course is the next pivotal point in progressing the ANA artillery training.
“The basic courses will see ANA Officers and NCO’s training young Afghan officers. These officers will then go down into southern Afghanistan and fill the batteries in the southern provinces and actually fight the Taliban,” Lieutenant Colonel Vagg said.
“It’s essential that Afghans develop the ability and confidence to teach other Afghans, if we are going to be able to transition to Afghan-led security.”
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