Afghan Artillery progress
28 November 2013
Diggers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment-based Recovery Support Force started their first Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST task on 28 November.
An Australian artillery advisor has witnessed the progression of Afghan National Army (ANA) artillery first-hand during his two deployments to Uruzgan province.
Sergeant Troy Charters, 8/12 Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, first deployed with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force Two in 2009, mentoring the 4th Brigade 205th Hero Corps (4/205) based at Multi National Base – Tarin Kot.
In June 2013, he deployed again, this time with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Force Security Force Assistance Advisory Team.
Four years ago the 4/205 gun line was in a state of disrepair.
The Uruzgan artillery battery had four old Russian D-30 122mm guns, but they had not been maintained and did not even have the dial sights or aiming circles needed to engage the enemy with indirect or direct fire.
Now, the ANA is employing these same guns with great effect on the battlefield.
Sergeant Charters said the team in 2009 was so desperate to help the Afghans that the commander actually bought two dial sights on the internet to facilitate the gunners’ training.
“One managed to make it into Afghanistan, but we still had a lot of work to do to get the guns and gunners ready,” he said.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to fire the guns during our rotation as they didn’t reach the required technical safety standards.”
So Sergeant Charters was thrilled to find on his return this year that the Afghan gunners had not only refined their skills, but were conducting advanced combined arms operations.
“They are doing really well,” he said.
“Their D-30s are now being deployed with Afghan command posts and they are firing high explosives, illumination and smoke in support of ANA and Afghan National Police operations.
“The Afghan gunners are fast and accurate, and can effectively engage by direct and indirect fire.”
Important support in the lead up to operations was provided by Slovak, Australian and United States mentors from Combined Team Uruzgan.
The efforts of Slovak soldiers from the Combat Service Support Military Advisor Team assisted the Afghan mechanics in servicing the D-30 howitzers, confirming the guns were ready to fire.
Battery Commander Capt Abdul Sakad, 4/205, acknowledged the hard work of the coalition artillery mentors and advisors over the past four years.
“Our logistics has also improved greatly. Previously we had problems even finding stationery or district maps and now our stores requests and ammunition demands are being delivered consistently,” he said.
“We have been very busy conducting independent operations against the insurgents.
“I am sad the Australians are leaving Uruzgan, but I will always appreciate the help they have given us.”
Sergeant Charters said it was amazing to be in Uruzgan at the start and the end to see the results of the hard work the previous rotations of coalition advisors have put in to the 4th Brigade.
“It was all worth it,” he said.
“The ANA are fighting for Afghanistan and they are good soldiers. They are not fighting for money or prestige; they are fighting to make their country a better place.”