Australian and Afghan Soldiers Mentoring Milestone

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.”

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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