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Afghan Communications Unit Reaches Capability Milestone

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 3, 2006 – A unique Afghan National Army communications unit reached a milestone recently by demonstrating its capability to plan, deploy and establish a communications station.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Maj. Abdul Anan (left) and Capt. Gul Mohammed, officers with the Afghan National Army's Communications Support Element, perform radio checks during the unit's first deployment recently. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The Communication Support Element is providing ANA leadership with the capability to extend command and control systems to a deployed operations center anywhere in Afghanistan.

The battalion-sized unit is being developed to support the needs of the National Military Command Center in the event of a failure at the primary facility.

The organization also will be tasked with restoring communications for up to two of the Afghan army's corps headquarters and providing critical communications during a natural disaster.

The unit's soldiers demonstrated their abilities when they deployed to the National Stadium in Kabul March 20 to provide communications for the Afghan army's on-scene security element supporting activities during a major cultural celebration.

The CSE personnel employed base-station very-high-frequency radios as well as man-portable units for use throughout the site. In addition, they set up a high-frequency radio station to provide long-haul connectivity to the ANA Corps and the National Military Command Center.

Within just a few hours, the communications element's systems were ready to provide ANA leadership with the capabilities to maintain situational awareness during this high-profile public celebration.

Maj. Gen. Ali, Afghan National Army chief of communications, stressed the importance of providing communications with not only the ANA, but also with the broad spectrum of organizations involved in national security. "The CSE had interoperability with the Ministry of the Interior, Presidential Security Unit, National Department of Security and army components," he said.

The CSE is still in the early stages of development, but progress is being made in all areas, U.S. officials said. Construction is under way on a complex in Kabul that will provide training and maintenance areas, barracks, a dining facility and improved security. Modern communications and support equipment is starting to flow into the unit, as well.

In addition to the VHF and HF radios, the organization's initial computer systems and vehicles have been delivered with more on the way.

Plans are also in place to provide the CSE with a sustaining communications capability including satellite terminals to reach back to the ANA strategic network for services. CSE is fully integrated in the ANA's overall communication structure, officials said. The communication unit has advanced radios, telephones and data systems ensuring compatibility, easier sustainment and reduced training requirements.

The current group at the CSE is only a small percentage of the projected force, which is expected to reach nearly 300 people by the end of the year. The staff and soldiers on hand are staying busy standing up the unit and training. CSE troops have joined their fellow Afghan soldiers in radio training classes, and many are currently attending contracted information technology courses at the Ministry of Defense and Kabul University.

"This first deployment of the CSE was a big achievement for the communications section and the whole army," Ali said. "This initial effort represents an important first step in realizing the vision for the Communication Support Element, a unit standing ready to provide the ANA with contingency communications support whenever and wherever needed."

(From a Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news release.)

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