205 Coalition Advisory Team (CAT) advising mission
20 March 2015
The Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 205th Corps in Kandahar province continues to strengthen its capabilities in line with the ongoing efforts of the Australian-led advising mission there.
The 205 Coalition Advisory Team (CAT) which provides advice to senior Corps ANA members comprises 17 Australian Defence Force officers and senior non-commissioned officers (SNCOs), bolstered by American and Bulgarian military staff.
G3 (Operations) Advisor, Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Glenn Mackenzie advises the 205th Corps’ Chief Operations Officer and says he’s seeing the progress.
“They’re integrating well the enablers such as armour, aviation and artillery into the tactical fight that the Afghan infantry are engaged in on a daily basis,” LTCOL Mackenzie said.
“And it includes the integration of the Afghan National Police at a number of levels.”
205 CAT provides advisors across a range of functions including operations, intelligence and planning as well other enabling functions.
There is particular importance for the 205th Corps role in Southern Afghanistan.
“205th Corps looks after four provinces in Southern Afghanistan,” LTCOL Mackenzie said.
“In particular, Kandahar is the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, so the role of 205 is probably one of the more important roles of any of the corps within Afghanistan for the simple fact that it sits on the seat of power of the Taliban forces.”
205 CAT Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) and 205 Corps Command Sergeant Major (CSM) advisor, Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) John Stonebridge said he finds the role challenging but rewarding.
“I find on a daily basis when giving advice to the CSM it’s the interaction that’s most rewarding,” he said.
“It’s not so much going to the office and advising in that environment, it’s going out to meet other soldiers, view parades, do some man management/personnel management.
“The CSM is also in charge of the promotion of all the soldiers within the Corps itself so he’s got a fairly big task and I find that by talking with him about that I actually learn a fair bit myself.”
The Australians have consistently received positive feedback for their mentoring and advising roles both in previous years and now under the NATO led Resolute Support train, advise, assist mission.
WO1 Stonebridge said there is no special reason for this, but some typical Aussie attributes do help.
“One of the key attributes that I believe is important for advising is to listen,” he said.
“It’s all well and good to give your opinions and your answers to their questions but I think you need to be a pretty good listener.
“I think also one of the reasons the Australians are particularly good at doing the advising and mentoring roles is because I think they have a pretty good sense of humour.”