Today’s Bloggers’ Roundtable was with Col. Paul Somersall, Regional Corps Advisory Command Commander. He heads the advisory teams for the Afghan 205 Corps, the “Hero” or Atl Corps. Col. Somersall is an upstate New Yorkers and a member of the New York Army National Guard.
The Afghan National Army‘s 205 Corps has the responsibility for the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Nimruz and Oruzgan. It consists of four brigades, a commando battalion and three garrisons. It is presently under the command of General Shermohammed Zazai. The Corps has integrated artillery and air lift capacity. The Corps also supports a regional medical hospital dedicated to the security forces.
Col. Somersall’s command is advising the Corps down through the company level in all aspects of modern warfare, with emphasis on logistics and maintenance. The 205 Corps is in the heart of the fighting against the terrorists and their willingness to fight is not an issue. Intercepted Taliban communications, according to Somersall, warned against fighting one particular battalion newly equipped with the M-16 rifle since “they can kill us faster”.
Corps units are conducting their own resupply missions, by ground and air. Since August 2008 the Corps has moved over 90,000 tonnes of supplies using the MI-17 helicopters belonging to the Corps.
Col. Somersall repeated the gist of the statement that has been made by other American officers in Afghanistan, that if they had more, they could do more. Nimruz Provice, as an example, has no Afghan Army presence, only some police units. More Afghan troops, more NATO mentors, more funds for training and outreach to the civilian population, all of these items would prove valuable. The effects of the current programs are significant.
I asked the Col. about recruiting for the Army. He was quite emphatic that there is a demand to join the army among Afghans and stated that the Army is highly respected by the civilian populace.
The takeaway from this interview is the current ability of the 205 Corps and its units to plan and execute their own operations, whether combat or logistical. It is clear that the mentoring is being successful.