Afghan Forces Receive NATO Weapons
By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 9, 2008 Afghan national security forces will receive a huge capability and mobility boost throughout the next year with more than 6,000 up-armored vehicles and more than 75,000 M-16 rifles from Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.
Servicemembers assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan's armored vehicle fielding team stand in front of more than 300 vehicles that will be issued to the Afghan national security forces, Oct. 5, 2008. During the next year, more than 6,000 vehicles will be issued throughout the country. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“This is great,” said Army Maj. Charles McPhail, the command’s chief of plans and requirements. “The Afghan National Army will become a modernized army, with Humvees and NATO weapons. This transformation will help usher their forces into the 21st century.”
McPhail cited the M-16 rifle’s accuracy and durability since its introduction as the primary weapon for the U.S. military more than 30 years ago. The Russian-built AK-47 has been the primary weapon of the Afghan National Army since its formation, but Afghan government and military leaders prefer the sturdy M-16 rifle.
“Accuracy will always be more important than lots of shots,” McPhail said. “They wanted a weapon that doesn’t waste shots. That’s the reason the Afghan government asked for the M-16.”
Afghan National Army Maj. Hasim Habiuallah, a company commander assigned to a forward deploying battalion, said the weapons and vehicles will allow Afghan soldiers to protect the country more effectively.
“Our soldiers like these weapons,” he said. “Some of them have already qualified with the M-16 rifle. All this new equipment will help us rid Afghanistan of the Taliban.”
Afghan forces’ mobility will be greatly enhanced by the addition of more than 6,000 Humvees. The Humvee is the most commonly deployed tactical vehicle used by the U.S. armed forces and NATO.
“The Humvees are already preferred because of the heavy armor,” Habiuallah said. “All of our soldiers realize that it is safer to travel in them, too. These vehicles will give us an edge in battle we didn’t have before.”
Afghan security forces already have received nearly 600 Humvees and more than 6,000 M-16 rifles. Afghan soldiers will be trained in the operation and maintenance of the new weapons and vehicles at Kabul Military Training Center.
(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham serves in the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)