Australian mentoring of Afghan Army produces results

Australia’s largest unit in Afghanistan, Men­tor­ing Task Force – Three (MTF-3), con­tin­ues to build on the achieve­ments of its pre­de­ces­sors.

Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of MTF-3, Lieu­tenant Colonel Chris Smith, said that since the Aus­tralian Defence Force com­menced its men­tor­ing mis­sion, the 4th Brigade of the Afghan Nation­al Army (ANA) has shown promis­ing devel­op­ment.

“Over the dura­tion of our pro­gram, the ANA’s 4th Brigade has demon­strat­ed an increased abil­i­ty to take con­trol of local secu­ri­ty,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith said.

Accord­ing to Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith, there has been a marked improve­ment in the the ANA 4th Brigade’s abil­i­ty to plan, lead, exe­cute and sus­tain oper­a­tions.

“The ANA is con­duct­ing more oper­a­tions of extend­ed dura­tion and dis­tance to inhib­it insur­gent move­ment and influ­ence,” he said.

MTF-3 assumed respon­si­bil­i­ty for men­tor­ing oper­a­tions in Uruz­gan Province on 25 June of this year and will be deployed to Afghanistan until around March 2012.

Dur­ing the first four months of the unit’s men­tor­ing oper­a­tions, Aus­tralian and Afghan forces have made notable achieve­ments of which they should be proud.

MTF-3 and our Afghan part­ners have dis­cov­ered more than 95 insur­gent caches con­tain­ing quan­ti­ties of explo­sives, Impro­vised Explo­sive Device (IED) com­po­nents and weapons since we began oper­a­tions here three months ago,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith said.

“We have found and removed around 45 IEDs, been involved in 40 small arms fire engage­ments and detained a sus­pect­ed insur­gent who was alleged­ly respon­si­ble for the facil­i­ta­tion of IEDs.

“Most notably, we have sup­port­ed numer­ous ANA-planned and led oper­a­tions across the province, forc­ing insur­gents to flee the region and aban­don pre­vi­ous­ly unchal­lenged sup­ply routes.”

While the Task Force suf­fered the trag­ic loss of one of their com­rades, Pri­vate Matthew Lam­bert, who was killed when an IED det­o­nat­ed on 22 August 2011, the MTF-3 sol­diers have been encour­aged by their suc­cess­es and are keen­ly focused on the mis­sion at hand as the so-called fight­ing sea­son moves towards the harsh Afghan win­ter.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith said that recent suc­cess­es demon­strat­ed the ANA was well on the way to tak­ing com­plete charge of their own secu­ri­ty in Uruz­gan by 2014.

“Thanks to great co-oper­a­tion between the ADF and ANA, in three months we have seen the con­fi­dence of the 4th Brigade grow to such an extent that they can now plan and exe­cute their own oper­a­tions with reduced over­sight by MTF-3,” he said.

Dur­ing one con­tact in the Char Chineh Val­ley in late August, a part­nered MTF-3 and Afghan force was approached by an Afghan man who had been beat­en by insur­gents and whose legs were man­a­cled.

MTF-3 assist­ed the man who was lat­er con­firmed to be a mem­ber of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces that had been kid­napped by insur­gents three weeks pri­or. The man was returned to a Patrol Base to begin his recov­ery.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Smith said that MTF-3 had expe­ri­enced some sad times, but have also already enjoyed many suc­cess­es.

“We have seri­ous­ly dis­rupt­ed the insur­gents and seen our Afghan part­ners con­tin­ue to grow in con­fi­dence and capa­bil­i­ty,” he said.

“Every mem­ber of the team believes in the mis­sion and realis­es how impor­tant our actions here are.”

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

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