Regional Support Links Commands in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 — Mem­bers of the NATO-led Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force are work­ing hard toward help­ing Afghanistan become a self-reliant nation by 2014.
And that mis­sion involves the train­ing of Afghan secu­ri­ty forces, as well as killing and arrest­ing insur­gents, said a senior U.S. Army offi­cer post­ed in Afghanistan.

Army Col. Howard Arey, chief of staff for NATO Train­ing Mis­sion Afghanistan’s deputy com­man­der for region­al sup­port, yes­ter­day spoke dur­ing a “DOD Live” blog­gers round­table about how ISAF offi­cials coor­di­nate and inte­grate the NATO train­ing mis­sion with region­al com­mands and Afghan secu­ri­ty forces.

They do three things, he said: “They inte­grate, they build, and they sus­tain.”

Arey said inte­gra­tion comes into play pri­mar­i­ly in train­ing. Region­al sup­port com­man­ders make sure train­ing sites are well-run and well-led so NATO train­ers can pro­vide the best train­ing for future Afghan sol­diers and police.

“We’ve got over 60 train­ing sites and train­ers — and we have a capac­i­ty of over 30,000 a month of what we can train in the Afghan Nation­al Army and police,” he said. “And that hap­pens all over the coun­try of Afghanistan.”

The colonel said region­al com­mands also pro­vide the secu­ri­ty nec­es­sary for major con­struc­tion projects car­ried out by U.S. Army and Air Force engi­neers. Region­al com­mands also build their own tac­ti­cal infra­struc­ture.

“I’m talk­ing about police sub­sta­tions and com­bat out­posts and for­ward oper­at­ing bases,” Arey said. “Each of these [region­al] com­man­ders has an organ­ic engi­neer cell that’s out on the ground every day, build­ing the tac­ti­cal infra­struc­ture so that the Afghan Nation­al Army and police can get down to where the fight is at.”

Sus­tain­ment comes in a vari­ety of ways, Arey said. Pro­vid­ing sup­port for troops on the ground, assist­ing with Afghan secu­ri­ty force oper­a­tions and con­tin­ued inte­gra­tion with oth­er forces in the coun­try is a job that won’t stop until NATO’s mis­sion there is com­plete, he added.

Embed­ding troops with new­ly trained Afghan units is one way region­al com­mands help to sus­tain Afghanistan, the colonel said.

Going into the future, sus­tain­ment will become an Afghan mat­ter, but for now, Arey said, the train­ing command’s region­al sup­port func­tion is there to help.

“We’ve still got some grow­ing to do [to meet Afghan forces’ recruit­ing goals], and we’ll con­tin­ue to do that both in the army and the police, but we are very much look­ing for­ward to the next stage — what hap­pens when you get to steady state,” the colonel said.

“The train­ing does­n’t just stop,” he added. “Just like in the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary, sol­diers will leave the mil­i­tary and they’ll have to be replaced. There will always be this con­tin­u­ous need for train­ing and regen­er­at­ing the force.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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