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WORLD NEWS 13
Army October 15, 2009
Let's shake on that: OMLT member LCpl Aaron Kime shakes hands with one of the ANA soldiers during a patrol from forward operating base Mirwais
in Chora, southern Afghanistan.
Photo by Sgt Rob Nyffenegger
By Capt Matt Moran
AFTER four months in Afghanistan,
MRTF 2 is seeing real improve-
ments in the Afghan National Army
A key part of MRTF 2's mission
is the mentoring of ANA's 4 Bde in
Oruzgan province. MRTF 2's two
Operational Mentoring and Liaison
Teams (OMLT) are enhancing 4 Bde's
operational capabilities so the ANA
can take over security in the province
and defeat the insurgent threat.
MRTF 2's first mentoring team
concentrates on improving the infantry
skills of 2 Kandak (which means bat-
talion in Pashtu), part of ANA's 4 Bde.
MRTF 2's second OMLT, only
recently arrived in Afghanistan, is
focused on training and enhancing
ANA 4 Bde's 4 Kandak, which is a
combat support battalion whose ele-
ments include artillery, engineers and
Given the wide variety of roles in
4 Kandak, there are members from
nine different Australian Army corps
represented in one OMLT, reflecting
its unique role.
OMLT OC Maj Gordon Wing
said all the members of his team had
trained hard for their role and had hit
the ground running.
"Our reconnaissance mentors have
already successfully mentored an
Afghan company to deploy, take over
a patrol base and conduct operations
in a new area of operations," Maj Wing
said. "The reconnaissance mentors
have been given excellent support by
other personnel from within the OMLT
and we have established good relation-
ships with our Afghan counterparts."
The OC of the other OMLT, Maj
Brenton Russell, said his men had
enjoyed the experience of living and
fighting alongside their Afghan col-
leagues over the past few months.
"We're definitely seeing improve-
ments within the Afghan soldiers," Maj
"The Afghan soldiers have some
very good natural skills because they
themselves are of the people, they
understand the people and are very
good at communicating with the peo-
ple. What we sometimes take for
granted, as a more developed army,
is the ability to incorporate support-
ing assets and increased command and
control. We are trying to pass this on to
the Afghan soldiers."
He said the ANA troops were good
learners. "They're always very keen
to learn new ways of how to do things
better but they've got some really good
skills as well; we learn from them and
they learn from us," he said.
Lt Nathan Cooper is one of the
mentors from the OMLT based in
Chora, north of Tarin Kowt.
"I think the most important thing to
realise is that although we have a long
way to go, we've made some improve-
ments," Lt Cooper said.
"We're teaching them infantry
minor tactics, trying to teach them
when they get on the ground how to
counter the main threats that they're
facing -- IEDs, threats from insurgents
with small-arms fire and other things
of that nature," he said.
"In addition, we're teaching them
how we operate in a counter-insur-
gency environment, talking to locals
and trying to gain information."
He said the Australian soldiers
faced real dangers every day.
"The training that we've received
has prepared us very well for that and
we are capable of dealing with any-
thing that comes our way," he said.
"The Afghans are inherently a war-
rior race; they will get into a fight and
they will fight with us, they're not
afraid of any danger at all."
LCpl Aaron Kime said working
with the Afghan Army has been a good
"We've noticed a few improve-
ments with them. A lot of it is their
basic patrolling skills, such as weapon
carriage, field signals, their ability to
provide good security in all environ-
ments -- urban and in the open fields
-- and their ability to notice differences
in the pattern of life of civilians, stuff
that we as foreigners find hard to pick
up," he said.
WO2 Nigel Brien said the improve-
ments of the Afghan soldiers had been
"What we're finding is that when
we get into more practical demonstra-
tions with them, we see an improve-
ment -- once they can visualise what
they are trying to learn," WO2 Brien
said. "Things that we have been trying
to identify and fix are section identity,
what section they are from and that
they continually work together to build
up that continuity."
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