By Sgt. Christopher Harper | ISAF HQ Public Affairs | KABUL, Afghanistan (Sept. 21, 2012) – The Afghan National Army is now more than 190,000 strong. It is made up of six corps and a capitol division stretching into every province across the country, each with as many as 15,000 men and women. Sergeant Major of the Afghan Army Roshan Safi, the senior enlisted servicemember in the ANA, held the 9th annual seminar of noncommissioned officers at the Kabul Military Training Center this week. Enlisted leaders from around Afghanistan gathered to discuss strategies for continued success and to pave the way forward through the country’s transition to independence.
“We are not far away from the day when the ANSF take full responsibility for the security of Afghanistan, said Afghan Minister of Defense Bismillah Mohammadi to the more than 200 assembled leaders. Minister Mohammadi recently assumed the responsibilities his office. He felt it was important to address the conference and express the critical role leadership plays in increasing capabilities and securing Afghanistan.
“On just my first couple of days on the job, I heard about this chance to speak to our NCO leadership and I felt it to be very important to be here to show my support,” said Mohammadi. We intend to sustain our current numbers, and we must focus on our leadership because it is the key to increasing capability.”
The ANA capabilities are increasing. The force has medical first responders, a growing aviation capacity, engineers, and logisticians. It is focused on professional development for both officers and enlisted soldiers. It maintains an effective kinetic special operations component and has recently added and began deploying more than 650 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles complete with trained mechanics and operators.
“This is a modern, battle-tested fighting force,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Capel, the International Security Assistance Force senior enlisted leader and guest speaker at the three-day conference. “They are leading missions in all phases from planning and training through to execution.”
The 64,000 noncommissioned officers in the ANA are responsible for training and maintaining the force readiness. They find themselves in empowered positions, due in large part to their experience, expertise, and close working relationship with coalition partner mentors.
“When we say the NCO corps is the backbone of our army, it is a very true statement,” Maj. Gen. Abdulah Khaliq, the executive officer of the ANA Chief of Staff, told the assembled senior leaders. “Today, the ANA holds the honor and respect of the Afghan people, and you NCO’s are the guardians of our honor.”
Maintaining honor was a topic touched on by both Maj. Gen. Khaliq and Minister Mohammadi in addressing the incidents of insider attacks also known as green on blue events.“Our international friends are fighting for ten years, side by side with us to help us defeat terrorism,” said Khaliq. “An honorable Afghan would never let harm come to their friends or guests. Our ISAF partners are our guests and allies.”
Minister Mohammadi expanded on this theme by thanking ISAF partners for their “…friendship, faith in the Afghan people, and assistance in defeating the enemies of Afghanistan.”
“We are working and fighting together,” he said. He instructed the leaders to be vigilant and report up the chain of command anyone who shows signs of dishonoring that friendship.
Sergeant Major Safi assured leaders that the message was clear and would be brought to every level in their ranks. “We are making a new history for Afghanistan,” he reminded sergeants major in attendance. “Look how far we’ve come in the past decade. We still have a ways to go, but with honorable leaders we’ll get there, insha’Allah.” God willing.