Afghan National Army Commando Corps

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Afghan National Army Commando Corps
ANA Commando Brigade SSI.svg
Insignia of the Afghan National Army Commando Corps
Founded24 July 2007
(11 years, 5 months)[1]
Country Afghanistan
BranchAfghan National Army emblem.svg Afghan National Army
RoleCounter Terrorism
Size21,000 commandos (2017)[2][3]
Part ofANA Special Operations Command
HeadquartersCamp Morehead, Wardak Province, Afghanistan[4]
Corps flagANA Commando Brigade Flag.svg

The Afghan National Army Commando Corps (formerly ANA Commando Brigade;[5] ANA Commando Battalion[6]) is an elite commando force of Afghan National Army. The Commando Corps was formed from existing Infantry battalions. The program was established in early 2007 with the intent of taking one conventional infantry kandak (battalion) from each of the regional ANA corps, giving them special training and equipment, and reorganizing based on the United States Army Rangers. Each battalion is assigned to one of the six regional corps, with the Commando Corps being the seventh military corps. The commandos comprise 7% of the Afghan National Security Forces but conduct 70% to 80% of the fighting.[7]

In August 2017, General John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of the Resolute Support Mission, said: "The [commandos] have never lost a battle...The Taliban have never won against the commandos...They never will."[8]

Selection and training[edit]

The training is conducted at the Morehead Commando Training Center, a former Taliban training compound located six miles south of Kabul, Afghanistan. The training center is named after United States Army 5th Special Forces Group soldier Master Sergeant Kevin Morehead, who was killed in Iraq in September 2003.[9]

The training of supply, logistics and operations has been conducted by mentors from Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, United States Special Operations Forces, French Special Forces, and ANA Commando cadre.[10][11]

The 12-week program has three concurrent training sections for the entire course. The primary and bulk of the training is geared for the infantry toli (company) with a focus on individual skills and small unit tactics. To support the line companies, the Headquarters and Headquarters Toli receives special training in specific skills such as mortars, medical care, and communications. The third section focuses on the kandak staff, their core areas of responsibility and function as the Command and Control (C2).[9]

Upon graduation, each Commando Kandak returns to its designated Corps area along with an embedded U.S. Army Special Forces A-Team and begins using an 18-week training cycle that breaks down to six weeks each of train-up, missions and recovery. Of the five active duty United States Special Forces Groups, 3rd Group and 7th Group have been rotating responsibility as the main effort for continued training and advising in the Afghanistan theater.[12]

The future[edit]

ISAF reports that while the original plan was for one Brigade with six Kandaks (Battalions) the ANA want a full division with three Brigades and 15 Kandaks.[13]

As of April 2012 the reported strength of the ANA Commandos was 8,500 men organized into 8 kandaks and one group of 500 Special Operations troops.[14] In August, 2017 the New York Times reported that the strength of the Afghan Commandos was 21,000 with an increase to 30,000 as a goal.[7]

Graduating classes[edit]

Members of the 201st Commando Kandak prior to a mission in 2008

The 1st Commando Kandak (Battalion) - from the 201st Corps, graduated on July 24, 2007 - Afghan 201st Corps 'Kabul'.[15]

The 2nd Commando Kandak - from the 203rd Corps "Tandar" (Thunder), graduated on October 16, 2007 - Afghan 203rd Corps 'Gardez'

The 3rd Commando Kandak - from the 205th Corps "Atal (Hero), graduated on January 30, 2008 - Afghan 205th Corps 'Kandahar'

The 4th Commando Kandak - from the 207th Corps "Zafar (Victory), graduated on May 8, 2008 - Afghan 207th Corps 'Herat'

The 5th Commando Kandak - from 209th Corps "Shaheen" (Falcon), graduated in October 2008

The 6th Commando Kandak - from 1st Commando Brigade, graduated in May 2009

The 7th Commando Kandak - from 215th Corps "Maiwand", graduated on January 21, 2010

The 9th Commando Kandak "Cobra" - from 1st Commando Brigade, graduated on August 17, 2010

The 8th Commando Kandak "Lamer & Sun" - from 1st Commando Brigade, graduated on May 6, 2011

Operational history[edit]

7th Commando Kandak (Battalion) in 2010

September 2007: The first ANA Commando Kandak graduated on July 24, 2007, with Col. Fareed Ahmadi as the kandak commander.[16] This ANA Commando Kandak conducted its first operation, a two-day mission in September 2007, 30 miles southwest of Jalalabad in the Sherzad district of Nangarhar province. There they captured two large weapons caches, over 80 kg of opium and detained Haji Shir Khan, a known improvised explosive device maker.[17]

November 2007: 3rd Toli, 1st Commando Kandak (201st), conducted an air-assault raid at dawn on the compound of a high-level Taliban facilitator, kicking off a four-day offensive operation named Operation Commando Fury in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa Province, Nov. 10-14, 2007. A joint effort by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army assisted the Commando kandak in disrupting the Taliban hold on the Tag Ab Valley.[18]

6th Commando Kandak, perform a clearing exercise in Kabul Province.

December 2007: The second ANA Commando Kandak, originally from the 203rd Corps, conducted a series of raids throughout the Sabari district in Afghanistan's Khowst province, Dec. 27–28, 2007. During the operation, the force arrested a suspected major insurgent facilitator primarily associated with the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan terrorist organization and believed to have ties to the Haqqani network terrorist group, the Taliban and al-Qaida. The combined Afghan force conducted the two-day operation without a shot being fired.[19]

January 2008: The Third ANA Commando Kandak, originally from the 205th Corps, along with Coalition forces, conducted a four-day operation to disrupt insurgents activity in the volatile Tag Ab Valley of Kapisa Province January 19–23, 2008. The Third Commando Kandak patrolled the Naghlu Reservoir to the village of Jangali in order to disrupt insurgent activities in the center of the valley as the combined force moved north. This operation served as a graduation exercise to providing confidence in the abilities of the newly formed Commando Kandak.[20]

Afghan commandos preparing for an air assault mission

February 2008: The second ANA Commando Kandak (203rd Corps), along with Coalition forces, captured a key insurgent facilitator in Khost Province February 9, 2008. The Ministry of Defense announced that ANA forces captured a known Taliban commander, Nasimulla, during a combined operation in the Dand Faqiran area of Yaqubi District.[21]

February 2008: 1st Toli of the First ANA Commando Kandak (201st), conducted a night air-assault raid in the Helmand Province to capture the Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Bari. Bari was one of the top remaining Taliban field commanders able to launch deadly attacks in Helmand and Uruzgan province. He led Taliban operations against the British in northern Helmand province in the Kajaki, Musa Qala, and Baghran districts. Bari was the former governor of Helmand under the Taliban regime.

The operation, named "Say Laab", meaning flood, utilized multiple helicopters and put over 100 commandos onto four separate targets simultaneously. The operation captured 11 combatants as well as destroying six enemy vehicles containing thousands of pounds of weapons and munitions, as well as nearly $8 million of illegal narcotics. Bari and 29 Taliban fighters were killed during the five-hour-long operation. The exact date of the operation wasn't given, but was reported by CJTF-82 media center on March 1, 2008.[22][23]

April 2008: one Commando Kandak (unknown designation) conducted operations in Nuristan Province on April 6, reportedly netted several members of the terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). The mission led to a coalition airstrike that, along with the ground fighting, left as many as 20 insurgents dead.[24] See Battle of Shok Valley

In July 2012, the Afghan commandos conducted their first successful night operation. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told the media that: "Last night in Afghanistan, US special operations joined Afghan commandos from the first special operations battalion in a full mission exercise demonstrating a night air assault. This was an Afghan plan, an Afghan-led mission. Afghan pilots flew four helicopters during the exercise, which involved more than 50 Afghan commandos, and US special operations forces acting in an advisory capacity. In the exercise, the commandos successfully discovered and apprehended a person of interest, recovered weapons and intelligence."[25] In March 2013, U.S. special operations forces handed over their strategic base in Wardak Province to local Afghan commandos.[26] Afghan commandos gradually began taking over the lead from NATO forces the fight against insurgents.[27] In April 2013, Afghan commandos killed 22 insurgents in Nangarhar Province and captured another 10 insurgents.[28]

On September 20, 2014, local officials in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan reported that Taliban insurgents from different regions of the country led by camouflaged men wearing black masks and captured several villages, set at least 60 homes on fire, killed more than 100 people and beheaded fifteen family members of local police officers. The masked insurgents reportedly carried the black flag of ISIL, openly called themselves soldiers of Daesh, and did not speak any local languages.[29] Deputy Police Chief General Asadullah Ensafi reported that Taliban ambushes stopped reinforcements from the Afghan National Army and provincial police from reaching the area. Afghan commandos inserted by helicopter were able to reinforce units already defending the area and Ensafi reported that the "immediate threat to district's center had been nullified."[29] For further information see 2014 ISIL beheading incidents.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "U.S. Special Forces train Afghans in own image, success could lead to troop withdrawals in region". NY Daily News. 2010-08-08. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  3. ^ "Special Operations: Afghans Create A-Teams". 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Cooper, Helene (2017-08-20). "Afghan Forces Are Praised, Despite Still Relying Heavily on U.S. Help". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-23.
  9. ^ a b US Department of Defense, Gates Visits New Afghan Commando Training Site
  10. ^ USA Today, France to withdraw 200 special forces from Afghanistan
  11. ^ Military Photos, Afghan Special Force Archived 2008-02-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Afghan commandos emerge - World news - Washington Post | NBC News". MSNBC. 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  13. ^ "ANA Commandos First on the Ground in Marjah | ISAF - International Security Assistance Force". Archived from the original on 2013-03-09. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  14. ^ "Sky News Australia - Top Stories Article". Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  15. ^ Military Times, "SF team sgt. lauds Afghan aid in Shok Valley", October 6, 2009.
  16. ^, New Afghan Commandos Take to the Frontlines
  17. ^ US Department of Defense, Afghan Commandos Nab Taliban Leader in First Raid
  18. ^ Combined Joint Task Force - 82, Elite Afghan force continues to neutralize Taliban insurgents Archived 2007-12-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Black Athem, Afghan Led Combined Force Arrests Suspected Taliban Leaders
  20. ^ Combined Joint Task Force - 82, Afghan commandos make presence known in volatile Tag Ab Valley Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Combined Joint Task Force - 82, ANA Commandos capture key Taliban IED facilitator
  22. ^ Combined Joint Task Force -82, Afghanistans-elite fighting force neutralize Taliban insurgents Archived 2008-04-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ FrontPage Magazine, Taliban Field Commander Killed in Helmand Province
  25. ^ "Afghan commandos conduct 1st successful night op - India News". 2012-07-27. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  26. ^ The Associated Press, file. "US commandos hand over troubled area to Afghans". Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  27. ^ "U.S. Central Command | Afghan commandos disrupt insurgent networks and reduce threat to ALP in Shonkrai Valley". 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  28. ^ "Afghan commandos kill 22 insurgents - News". 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-05-10.
  29. ^ a b Rahim, Fazul; Smith, Alexander (September 26, 2014). "ISIS-Allied Militants Behead 15 During Afghanistan Offensive: Official". NBC News. Retrieved September 27, 2014.