On July 16, the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) stood up the first division-sized special forces unit in Afghan military history. The ceremony, which went largely unnoticed in the media, is an important step in the transition of the war to the Afghan government. The hard work of the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) has resulted in the ANASOC division having approximately 10,000 soldiers in its ranks. “This trained unit represents some of the most elite and brave fighting forces in the ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces],” said ISAF Commander Gen. John R. Allen.
The Afghan military has high hopes that this new unit will be able to provide unique capabilities to help their government achieve its objectives. “Now that we have the ANASOC division, we will work together to scare the enemy so that the enemy will run away from us,” said ANASOC Commander Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim.
This isn’t the first Afghan army special forces unit, but it does mark the first time Afghan commandos, special forces, special operations aviation, and elite mobile strike force elements have been concentrated in one unit. The coalition effort at ANASOC was originally intended to build a brigade-sized force, but as NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) trained more special operations forces the force grew to division-size. Their demonstrated capabilities in battle also fueled the effort to train more ANASOC soldiers. “They continue to demonstrate their ability to conduct operations throughout Afghanistan and when engaged win decisively,” said Allen.
Special operations forces from a host of countries have played an important role during Operation Enduring Freedom and have been an effective force against the insurgency. This effectiveness has been recognized by both the coalition and the Afghan National Army, with Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan National Army chief of staff, telling NTM-A Public Affairs that “the best way to beat the enemy, defeat the enemy is to play with him the way he plays. You need small units, teams, to go after him where he hides.”