KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army logistics professionals stand in a conex storage container full of Russian and Chinese-made AK-47 rifles. Handling each one, they read off the serial numbers as another member of the team holds a clipboard with the manifest and checks off each one.
The logisticians track more than 1,200 captured weapons. Besides AK-47s, there are RPK light machine guns, DShK heavy machine guns, SPG-9 recoilless guns and other former Warsaw Pact munitions.
The nationwide weapons-collection program is part of an initiative by Afghan President Hamid Karzi: the “Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups.”
The Afghan National Army’s 205th Corps’ Forward Supply Depot at Camp Hero is a central collection point.
“There are places across the country that have amnesty-type of drop-off places for weapons and ammunition,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Kristin Morris, the FSD’s senior enlisted adviser.
“People who have weapons in their homes will take the weapons to the different collection points, and they’ll (collection point workers) bring them to us,”
“Mostly, the weapons are captured,” said Morris. “They find weapons caches, where there is a house that has been storing them or sometimes they are buried. They may be all burned up at times.”
Additionally, when ANA units are issued additional NATO weapons, they then turn in their foreign weapons.
“They’ll bring foreign weapons to us in the back of a truck, like a pickup truck. At times they will show up in the back of an international bigger truck. Just depending on what they have to transport the weapons to us,” said Morris.
On this day, ANA logisticians inventoried more than 700 Russian-made AK-47s.
“Those are a hot commodity downtown; we want to get them out of here so there’s no theft,” said Morris.
The mission is to get all of the foreign weapons off the compound.
“We do up paperwork and get them convoyed to Kabul at the depots. When they get to the depots, they can either refurbish them there or destroy them,” said Morris. “If this proves to be a success, it will pave the way for future retrogrades.”
Walking across the FSD compound, Morris points out a pile of junk consisting of burned, dismantled and otherwise unusable weapons. They used to be AK-47s, PKM general purpose machine guns, RPKs, DShKs and RPG-7s.
“Eventually they’ll go to scrap and melted down because there’s really no salvageable parts,” said Morris.
But not all weapons the FSD receives are made in Russia or China.
Eight 122-mm howitzer D-30 towed artillery weapons, gifts from the Turkish government to the Afghan National Army, stand impressively in the compound, and will find their way to the artillery batteries within the 205th Corps.
The FSD also collects and distributes NATO weapons for the corps’ units.
“NATO weapons, they come to us brand new, 100 percent serviceable,” said Morris.
Overall, the FSD has more than 3,000 NATO and foreign weapons in its inventory. Some are waiting to be issued, some belong to the security platoon and others are awaiting transportation to Kabul.
“It is a busy and rewarding job knowing we are getting the weapons off the streets away from the Taliban and have weapons to issue out to the ANA for their combat operations,” said Morris.
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