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By Capt Al McPherson
A SHORT lull in insurgent activity
brought on by the harvest season has
not slowed the operation and training
tempos for Mentoring Task Force 1
(MTF 1) and their Afghan National
Army (ANA) counterparts.
Across the MTF 1 area of opera-
tions, partnered mentoring is under way
on mounted and dismounted combined
patrols. The increasing security pres-
ence is being welcomed by communities
from the southern Baluchi Valley to the
northern Chora reaches, as well as east
through the Mirabad Valley.
MTF 1 CO Lt-Col Jason Blain said,
regardless of the season, his soldiers and
their Afghan partners would continue to
increase the security presence and set the
conditions for improved public health,
education and works projects.
"Specifically, we are delivering an
increased security presence across our
AO and we are surging in specific areas
to further increase the ANA and MTF 1
profile within identified communities,"
Lt-Col Blain said.
"Australia's aim is to progressive-
ly hand over security responsibility to
Afghan National Security Forces with
a view to setting the right conditions
for Afghan-led development in Oruzgan
"We will achieve this through part-
nered mentoring of the ANA 4 Bde
and by working closely with Australian
Government representatives from
AusAID, the Australian Federal Police
and the Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade as well as our coalition part-
ners, Afghan Government representa-
tives and local communities."
MTF 1 is the first Australian rota-
tion to include Operational Mentoring
and Liaison Teams (OMLT) tasked
with improving the ANA 4 Bde HQ and
Combat Service Support capabilities.
Maj Paul Manoel, OC ANA 4 Bde
HQ OMLT, said partnered mentoring
was delivering required skills to ANA
soldiers and was setting the framework
for an effective ANA brigade that would
eventually take over security operations
"We are seeing real progress being
made at the brigade-headquarters level,"
Maj Manoel said
He said the key to successful part-
nered mentoring lay in the ability of
mentors to adapt to the cultural differ-
ences and to be persistent.
"It's important for the people at home
to understand we are partnering ANA
personnel who operate within a very dif-
ferent set of cultural practices from those
we have in Australia.
WORLD NEWS 13
Army June 10, 2010
Lift in mentoring role
MTF 1 is progressing towards taking full
mentoring responsibility for the ANA 4 Bde
after assuming responsibility for ANA 4
Bde's HQ and one Dutch-mentored kandak
(battalion) on May 25 and another Dutch-
mentored kandak on June 1. MTF 1 will be
mentoring or supporting the following ANA
4 Bde elements:
1 Infantry Kandak (currently French-
mentored with Australian support and
is due to transition to full ADF mentor-
ing in late 2010);
2 Infantry Kandak;
3 Infantry Kandak;
4 Combat Support Kandak; and
5 Combat Services Support Kandak.
MTF 1 RESPONSIBILITIES
"In addition, the Pashtu and Dari
languages are complex so it's all about
communicating effectively with our
Afghan interpreters to instil the guiding
principles of military operations."
ANA confidence and capability in
planning and conducting ground opera-
tions at the brigade level is increasing.
Ongoing combined ANA and MTF 1
security operations involving dismount-
ed infantry, combat engineer and recon-
naissance capabilities in Oruzgan are
These include increases in IED find-
and-render-safe rates, increased cache
finds averaging around two a day (April-
May figures), and renewed confidence
and trust within local communities
through increased community liaison
Lt-Col Blain said the increased rate
of cache finds and ever-increasing com-
munity support was directly attributable
to foot patrols in local areas and the
commitment of his troops.
"Dismounted patrols hold inherent
risks, but we are prepared for those risks
in order to build trust through face-to-
face contact with the people. So far our
approach has been very successful in
that regard and the ANA are seeing the
benefits of a community-engagement
Lt-Col Blain said the achievements
of the ANA infantry, combat engineer
and reconnaissance elements in the
MTF 1 AO were clear.
"More and more we are seeing the
ANA at the front of ground operations.
The ANA recently demonstrated a full
suite of counter-IED skills by single-
handedly finding and rendering safe a
very-well-hidden and large cache in the
Mirabad Valley region."
Learning curve: Pte Hamid Ulla, Afghan National Army, receives advice from Sgt Justin Carpenter, MTF 1,
on driving skills.
Photo by Sgt Mick Davis
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