In six months of work at a patrol base in Panjwayi District of Kandahar Province, a team of Canadian artillery mentors has seen impressive progress in the artillery battery in Kandak 4 of the 1st Brigade, 205 Corps 4/1/205, Afghan National Army (ANA).
The Canadians are artillery and infantry soldiers from the 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in Petawawa, Ontario, who live and work fulltime with their Afghan counterparts.
The Afghan gunners have significantly improved their skills at every level. The soldiers’ personal gun drill is sharp and professional, the senior soldiers have increased their role in decisionmaking, and the battery officers have enhanced their technical skills so much that direct mentorship is less and less necessary. The 4/1/205 Artillery Battery is now able to support Afghan national security forces with lethal and nonlethal effects by day and by night.
“The ANA Artillery surpassed our greatest expectations by the second month of our mission,” said artillery mentor Warrant Officer Dwayne Colbourne. “The ANA soldiers are making progress, and everything since then has been above and beyond what we thought achievable.”
Unlike the infantry units of 1/205 ANA, the 4/1/205 Artillery Battery manages its own training cycle, and its leaders have done an excellent job of addressing the challenges presented by frequent rotation of personnel due to leave and training requirements. The battery’s multidisciplinary approach to training gives equal weight to personal development and artilleryspecific technical skills. Soldiers learn first aid, literacy skills and mathematics as well as gun drill and the computation of firing data.
The battery adopted several initiatives to improve its accuracy and timeliness of fire, and drastic results have been achieved with the collection of more accurate meteorological information, and a computerized method for computing data.
“Now I understand how the Canadian guns are capable of firing so quickly; our soldiers will be proud to be just as professional,” said Lt Nasarullah, the battery’s Executive Officer, during the first mission using the new firecontrol software.
The 4/1/205 Artillery Battery has already demonstrated its operational readiness on several occasions. In December, it deployed a selfsufficient gun troop to Zhari District to support an ANA led brigade operation. During the operation, the battery responded to realtime calls for illumination and coordinated highexplosive showofforce missions to coincide with infantry clearance tasks. The illumination missions were called for and adjusted by personnel from an ANA reconnaissance company.
In late January, a joint coalitionAfghan element operating in near Zangabad came under effective and sustained fire that endangered Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP), Afghan National Army and coalition forces alike. In response, a mentored ANA forward observation party called for fire from the 4/1/205 Artillery Battery. The combined weight of ANA and coalition indirect fire ended the contact, permitting a seriously wounded American police mentor to be brought to the helicopter landing site for extraction. Soldiers from the ANA forward observation party secured the northern flank of the landing site until the helicopter was clear.
The 4/1/205 Artillery Battery will continue to improve and do its part to support Afghan national security forces in their mission to realize a safe and secure Afghanistan. The Afghan gunners’ hard work and determination is sure to make them increasingly important in the provision of vital fire support to Afghan and coalition soldiers operating in the volatile Panjwayi and Zhari districts of Kandahar Province.
By Captain Brendan Insley, Artillery Mentorp>