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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