Story by James Arnold
HQ ISAF Public Affairs
Afghan National Security Forces expanded their capability to impede insurgent activities throughout Afghanistan with the completion of the first ANSF aerostat familiarization class at Combat Outpost Terra Nova last week.
The year-long planning process resulted in nine trained ANSF officers who will, in turn, train other Afghans in aerostat operations and maintenance. The new training program signifies the international community’s commitment to ISAF’s post-2014 mission to train, advise, and assist the ANSF.
According to Vincent J. McCarron, ISAF’s Deputy Chief of Intel Operations, “The ANSF is proving to be a very capable and effective force and as their capacity continues to grow they continue on schedule to assume full responsibility of security for their country. Aerostat and tower training is just one of the many steps to enable the Afghanistan government to take the lead for national security and development.”
The average aerostat is approximately 35 meters in length, with a helium-filled skin of durable, multi-layer fabric that is suitable to all environments. Aerostats are equipped with surveillance and communications equipment and tethered to a mooring platform, which includes a ground control station.
The data aerostats gather support various operations within the ANSF and enhances their ability to identify insurgents, monitor illicit activities, locate fires and floods, provide crisis management and monitor road conditions. Aerostats present a large benefit for the safety and security of Afghanistan and its citizens.
According to Ray Gutierrez, a training supervisor with ISAF, “The training consisted of familiarization with aerostat operations. The ANA now have the aptitude to crew and operationally employ aerostats and towers for reconnaissance and surveillance. However maintenance and sustainment will still require support from ISAF.”
John Nagy, another trainer with ISAF, noted that “security will continue to be provided with a gradual adjustment of authority from ISAF to ANSF, in line with ANSF capability and development but, if the decision is made to field an all ANA team on an ANA site, I will personally go to oversee their success.
Major General Robert “Bob” Ashley, ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, praised the ANA soldiers for their accomplishments, highlighting the importance of their future role in saving the lives of Afghan security forces and Afghan civilians. Ashley highlighted, “This is yet another step in the process of enabling the Afghans to take the lead for security, all of us at ISAF are very proud of their accomplishment.”
During the certification ceremony, held at ISAF Headquarters on Dec. 26, each Afghan officer proudly marched up to Major General Manan Farahi, Afghan National Army, G2 (Intel), saluted, received their certification and proudly announced their ability to perform the aerostat mission.
The training was a coordinated effort between ISAF’s CJ2 Operations, NTM-A, ISAF Joint Command and ISAF’s Regional Command-South.
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