The Afghan National Army

Our latest mission has been to go out with the Afghan National Army (ANA), to film and photograph them, as the ‘defining moment of operation Herrick 15′ would be their first major operation planned and executed by themselves to clear an area of Helmand from the influences of the insurgents.

Being the video guy, my job was to film them from the orders through the patrol phase, to watch them as they took over compounds and created, from scratch, their Check points in an area that insurgents had been deeply embedded in.

Say what you will about the ANA, they may lack an element of our professionalism, skill or ability, but when you consider that they are poorly paid, receive only a fraction of the training we get, are nowhere near equipped (by our standards), they do a fantastic job and in light of all this they are beyond doubt very brave indeed.

During this operation, they moved with all they needed to sleep rough across difficult terrain in freezing temperatures, which was tough indeed.  They don’t get issued the warm or wet kit that we all get issued, and yet they just continue to work. The Afghans seem to work without complaint, they know what they need to do and they have a resolve to do what they need to, in order to rid their country of the enemy.

The ANA is a fledgling army, already growing to the required numbers, they know they have a tough job and continue to do their best to get it done, and they are proud.

Regardless of any shortcomings, I tip my hat to the Afghan braves and only hope that they gain the popular support of their countrymen because they above all deserve it and with it can begin to make the giant step towards peace, the likes of which has not been seen in this part of the world for decades.

These soldiers are going to be a big part of this countries future and every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Good luck.

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7 comments
  1. Mark Scadden said:

    Nice one Mark, I rather enjoyed every frozen step we took with them, but as you say the Warriors from the ANA and the Police Force did the required job, providing a focul point (in the new Check Points) for Local Nationals to come in and chat about their concerns and sercurity for the local communities. With the continued advice and support (although now less because of the Afghan lead) of ISAF they will suceed in making their country a more peaceful place to live.

  2. I have deployed twice to Afghanistan (9 Months – Helmand Province 2008, 8 Months – Uruzgan 2011) and I must admit that the ANA and the ANP have come along way, and you are right they are poorly equipped, they don’t receive the same training we do nor even decent pay for a hard days work and they don’t always get paid on time either but they have some serious resolve to remove the enemy from their country. I believe that they will succeed but it will take time, effort, sweat and unfortunately blood to be successful.

    Many Nations will be watching with a lot of interest at the end of 2014 to see ‘What happens next’ when every ISAF Nation pulls out of a country that has seen nothing more than conflict for half a century.

    Awesome shots and I know its bloody cold in the Ghan at the moment as well, never enjoyed the water crossings whilst on patrol in the Winter. Great post

    Stay Safe

    • Many thanks, avoiding wading in this weather is done when possible but not often possible so cold wet feet are a fact of life as you know. I hope the ANA and ANP will continue their momentum but they simply have to for this all to succeed, this conflict simply can not be resolved by outsiders and retain any credence, they have to sort it themselves ultimately. Thanks for the comments.

  3. Nice entry Mark, well worth the wait. Particularly well done given that you were shooting video as well – a lot of kit to carry and a lot to think about. Let me know when you’re back in the UK and we can grab a beer.

    • Thanks Stu. Sounds like a plan. Looking like I am posted to the school next summer so that may be a good time. How are things going now anyway?

  4. Will said:

    Mark,

    Nice work buddy, god i wish i was there working with my cameras. Keep your head down and your finger on the shutter release.

    Best wishes and a happy new year Will

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