The Afghan National Army Order of Battle has been significantly updated [see ANA OOB page 4]. Each headquarters unit and battalion is now rated with a Capability Milestone (CM) level, which indicates its operational capability.
• CM1: capable to lead operations independently
• CM2: capable to lead operations with ISAF support
• CM3: capable of operations with ISAF lead
• CM4: not capable of operations
• U/F: Unit has not been fielded as of June 2009, but is planned to be fielded by the end of 2009
These are the official definitions; however, they should be used with caution. Rating of individual units can be subject to some political influence, a former Operational Mentor and Liaison Team advisor to the ANA told The Long War Journal. While CM rating can give an indication of the relative capability of different units (a CM1 rated unit will usually perform better than a CM2 unit), the rating system is less reliable when describing a unit’s actual capability (a CM1-rated unit may not really be capable of leading operations independently). [See ANA OOB page 4 for a more detailed definition of the various CM levels.]
The ANA assigned strength is 91,000 out of the current goal of 134,000, including a 9.1 percent absent-without-leave (AWOL) rate in combat units. 117 battalion-sized units have been fielded out of a goal of 179. 76 are already capable of leading operations (CM1 or CM2 level). Between October 2008 and May 2009, the ANA led 54 percent of operations.
The current plan is to reach 134,000 by the end of 2011. However, Afghanistan’s Minister of Defense has proposed accelerating this to early 2011. This would be done by using makeshift facilities rather than permanent ones; providing older weapons, recently swapped out for NATO-standard weapons to second-tier forces; using as many former Afghan Army officers, though aging, as possible; and expanding training and education facilities. However, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, or CSTC-A, and some ANA Corps commanders caution that such a pace could threaten the quality of the force. This pace would also require major as yet unidentified expansions in funding, in training facilities and trainers, in equipment, and in partnering and mentoring.
There has also been discussion of expanding the ANA beyond the currently planned 134,000 personnel. No definitive decision has been made, but an expansion to 240,000 by the end of 2014 has been discussed in various media reports. This goal would be achieved by continuing the current planned rate of expansion past the end of 2011 through to the end of 2014.
Capitol Division Headquarter (Kabul) became operational on March 21, 2009. It is responsible for security in Kabul and surrounding districts. It commands 2 infantry brigades and the Headquarters Security Support Brigade.
Headquarters Security Support Brigade has formed. This brigade is tasked with providing security forces for ANA facilities in Kabul.
Six commando battalions out of a planned 8 battalions are operational. One commando battalion is assigned to each of the 5 ANA Corps as a quick reaction force. And the 6th commando battalion has been assigned to the newly formed National Commando Brigade (Kabul). The Commando Brigade will eventually comprise 3 commando battalions. The 7th commando battalion will be operational by January 2010.
Of the 18 planned infantry brigade Headquarters, 15 have formed so far. 3rd Brigade/ 207th Corps will be added starting the end of 2009, and 4th brigade / 201st Corps will be added at some time in the future. The location of the last brigade has not yet been identified, but some speculate it will be 3rd brigade / 209th Corps to parallel the establishment of 3rd brigade / 207th Corps.
In the past, a standard ANA infantry brigade consisted of 5 battalions: 3 infantry battalions, a combat support battalion, and a combat service support battalion. With the approval of the ANA’s force expansion, this standard organization has changed. The ANA is now in the process of adding a 6th battalion (an infantry battalion) to ANA infantry brigades. This means each infantry brigade will have 4 infantry battalions. By the end of 2009, a total of 9 ANA infantry brigades will have this additional infantry battalion.
The ANA has begun forming Combat Support Battalions (CSBs) at the Corps level. Until now, all CSBs were brigade-level units. These battalions consists of corps artillery, engineering units, MP, and medical and intelligence units. 201st Corp will receive the first Corps CSB in August 2009, and 203rd will receive the second Corps CSB in December 2009.
The 1st brigade of 203rd Corps, based in Khost province, is the first ANA brigade where all the units within the brigade (the brigade headquarters, its 5 subordinate battalions and its Garrison Support Unit) have all reached CM1 status, capable of operating independently without coalition assistance.
The 3rd Brigade of 201st Corps, the ANA’s mechanized brigade, had its commando battalion replaced with an infantry battalion. Its armored battalion and its mechanized infantry battalions are being operated as infantry battalions due to a lack of maintenance capability for its heavy equipment.
Operational Coordination Centers
The ANSF have established Operational Coordination Centers (OCCs). These are localized command centers that coordinate the security activities of all the security forces (ANA, ANP and ISAF) within an area with the national command centers: National Police Command Center (NPCC) and the National Military Command Center (NMCC).
Two types of OOC have been established. The OCC-Region types coordinate activities within a region, and OCC-Provincial types coordinate activities within a province. Five OCC-Region and 34 OCC-Province have been established. Each center is under the command of the ANA and reports directly to the provincial brigade or the regional corps headquarters, although close ties are maintained with the national command centers. The OCC staffs are composed of Operations, Intelligence, Air, Logistics, and Personnel sections. The normal complement to an OCC contains 15 ANA members, 15ANP members, 7 NDS members, 2-4 International Security Assistance Force mentors, and 2-4 Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan mentors. Border areas also include representatives from the ABP.
The OCC-Region functions as a regional operations center that enables ANSF to coordinate and monitor the security of the country. This type of command center receives requests for assistance from respective Provincial Operations Coordination Centers (OCC-Ps) in its region, conducts mission analyses, and determines the appropriate response force. It then alerts, deploys, and provides command and control of those forces while maintaining a communications link with the NPCC and the NMCC. The OCC-R and OCC-P each produce response plans to either enemy activity or, in coordination with Non-Governmental Organizations and/or the local population, natural disasters or humanitarian crises.
It is important to note that the Operational Coordination Centers are brand-new organizations within the ANSF. They will probably require some time to develop operating procedures, train, and gain experience before they become fully effective.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) Communications Support Element (CSE), along with mentors from Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), have established a tactical signal battalion. The ultimate goal is to increase CSE’s tactical communications capabilities, allowing them to provide tactical C4 (command, control, communications, and computer systems) services between the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and the ANA’s 5 Corps and the ANAAC. The CSE is targeting operational self sufficiency within the next 12 to18 months.
The Command and Staff College completed it course development in April. Four sets of programs spans the length of professional officer training from Lieutenant to General. With this, the training for officers through each rank has been standardize across the entire ANSF including Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and other Afghan agencies.
This year, an inaugural class of 84 lieutenants graduated from the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, a four-year school modeled after West Point. Next year the academy is scheduled to produce about 300 more lieutenants.
The conversion from Russian-made small arms to NATO-made small arms continues in the 201st Corps, 203rd Corps, 205th Corps, and Capital Division. Conversion will be complete by the spring of 2010. Uparmored HUMVEES continue to be fielded. There are currently 2,000 fielded with a goal of 4,200 by mid 2010.