Story and photos by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As the tour of duty for many soldiers with British Advisory Group 3rd Kandak 215th Corps, (Two Rifles Battle Group), comes to an end, many of them can look back at their work and see the results of their time advising the local security forces when they see a more independent Afghan National Army.
British troops played a supporting role in Operation Now Roz, March 16 through 19. During the operation, they observed Afghan National Security Forces securing the Yakchal Valley almost twice as fast as they expected.
“The ANSF have done really well,” said British Cpl. John D. Elliot, a section commander with Two Rifles. “They are quite professional. The locals are showing the ANA appreciation, which I believe is winning the war.”
Elliot, who first deployed to Sangin district approximately three years ago, said things have definitely changed since then, when they had to teach the ANA the most basic military skills. “They are taking care of things themselves,” said Elliot, 24, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. “Advising them is much easier.”
When he arrived on Camp Gereshk as a battlefield casualty replacement during December, British Capt. Oliver C.S. Little, a Tolay Adviser Training Team commander with Two Rifles was expecting a less disciplined ANA then what he found.
“My expectations were that they would be at pretty basic skill levels,” said Little, 26, from Tisbury, Wiltshire. “Everything I’ve seen them do, they’ve done with a lot of professionalism.” Little said his advisers have refreshed the ANA on first-aid and map reading skills, but the only kinds of support they’ve needed to provide is helicopter-based casualty evacuation, fires and surveillance. He added that the Afghan soldiers have done a good job of training themselves.
“I think from what I’ve seen at the start state of the tour to where they are now, I’ve been massively impressed with the progression,” said Little. “They are now at a state where I believe they could completely plan and conduct an operation themselves.” After the ANA’s success in Operation Now Roz, the adviser has even more confidence in their abilities.
“I think the next step is pulling back even more,” said Little. “With a couple of things from us, they can look after themselves. They’re able to map read, able to bring about better results.”
Little also noted that an ANA training team usually relies on a sergeant and an officer to complete their tasks, but during this tour the whole platoon-sized team got involved, which produced strong results.
“I think it’s quite interesting. A lot of the guys don’t get a chance to get involved with the ANA as much as possible, so we’ve quite often used them to deliver lessons to the ANA, which gives them a good chance to get involved,” he said
During their Afghanistan tour, Little’s team stayed involved in the ANA’s development, and built a strong relationship with their Afghan counterparts.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Little. “If the guys have a good relationship with them, and the guys have a good relationship with the ANA, then things work smoothly. Generally speaking, the better the relationship, the better their output is going to be, because they trust you to do the right thing.”