May 18, 2011

29th Infantry Division prepare Afghan National Security Forces for the future

By Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan
29th Infantry Division

KABUL — Members of the 29th Infantry Division are assigned to duty as military advisors to key senior operational leaders within the Afghan National Security Forces.

Col. Jeff Hice disembarks from an Afghan M-17 helicopter on his way to visit ANA soldiers. (Contributed photo)

Approximately one-third of the 29th Infantry Division’s Soldiers serve as military advisors for key operational elements of the ANSF: Afghan National Army Ground Forces Command, the ANA National Military Command Center, and the National Police Coordination Center. The 29th’s Military Advisors to these three organizations have the responsibility for their training and development. The military advisors also act as the link to ensure coordination and mutual support between these ANSF organizations and those 29th ID Soldiers performing ANSF development duties within the ISAF Joint Command Headquarters.

The ANA currently has more than 160,000 Soldiers and continues to grow. This surge in growth gives the 29th Infantry Division advisors the important task of assisting the ANA with all aspects of fielding and training the force. This situation is made more complex because the Afghan National Army is at war and growth and development must occur simultaneously with warfighting.

ANA Ground Forces Command is a new operational level command for Afghanistan. When established Ground Forces Command will command the six ANA Corps and the separate Capital Division, and will have responsibility for leading the security and counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. The Ground Forces Command is scheduled to assume their command responsibilities in 2012.

Col. Jeff Hice leads the Ground Forces Command advisor/mentor team comprised of 14 29th Infantry Division Soldiers and civilian contracted mentors. In this role he is the advisor to the GFC Commander Lt. Gen. Murad Ali Murad, an experienced Afghan officer with over 32 years of active military service in all of Afghan’s conflicts.

Maj. Gen. Murad Ali Murand congratulates John Winkler on his promotion to lieutenant colonell. (Photo by Lt. Col Tim Donnellan, 29th Infantry Division)

“Ground Force Advisors work to implement fully resourced plans to man, train and equip the Ground Forces Command to assume their important future role as Command and Control of all ANA ground forces,” said Hice.

Hice relates that, “The biggest challenge has been getting beyond our conceptions of what should work and learning what will work here. Afghanistan is not America and the solutions that we generate often have to be reworked to make them practical for application in Afghanistan.”

“I think there are two really rewarding things about this job. First, it is a great opportunity to build a new command that will have the responsibility for the future security of Afghanistan,” Hice added. “This is an important project and the 29th Infantry Division Security Partnering military advisors have the opportunity to contribute to something concrete that will make a difference. Second, it has been rewarding to work daily, shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan Army.  This has been a unique and rewarding opportunity.”

The members of the 29th Infantry Division have been in Kabul since December 2010 and will return this fall.

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