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ANA Commandos

ANA SOF include three primary types of forces: the ANA Commandos, the ANA Special Forces (ANASF), and the elite counterterrorism force called the Ktah Khas. The ANA Commandos focus on the enemy, whereas the ANASF focus on the population. More specifically, the Commandos are designed as a light infantry assault force similar in structure and design to the U.S. Army’s Ranger battalions. They are a direct-action force, trained in infantry tactics, raids, assaults, high-value targeting, ambushes, cordon and search, and close target reconnaissance. The Afghan government has indicated that it places a high priority on the Commandos and intends to keep these forces after 2014.

Commandos are some of the most elite fighting forces in the ANDSF. These specialized light infantry units have the capability to conduct raids, direct action, and conduct reconnaissance, providing what DoD characterized as “strategic response capability for the Afghan government.” According to DoD, when engaged, commando units win decisively, routinely conducting night raids independently using their own intelligence to drive their operations.

Based on the ANA’s ability to recruit and train personnel, the ANA could potentially increase the number of Commando forces by up to 3,000 personnel per year between now and 2018, with additional international assistance. Recruiting and training more Commandos is feasible, but would likely require additional international trainers and might negatively impact the quality of the force. The Commandos reached their maximum authorized end strength in late 2012. They had an attrition rate of about 3 percent and have no difficulty recruiting and training enough personnel to maintain their overall force strength.

From mid-2011 to mid-2012, the international community surged trainers to the ANA Commando School of Excellence and trained about 3,000 Commandos over the course of 12 months. In theory, the ANA could recruit and train Commandos at that level in the future. Recruiting more than 3,000 new Commandos per year could potentially be accomplished by re-designating and training existing ANA battalions as Commandos, as was done to stand up the Commando forces initially. This approach could rapidly increase the number of Commandos, but would result in lower recruiting standards and likely reduced operational performance by those units, compared to the units more recently formed through individual selection and training. This “bulk approach” to generating additional SOF is not recommended.

The length of time required for training is not a constraint on the number of Commandos that could be trained between now and 2015, as the basic training for Commandos is a 10-week course focused on light infantry tactics and specialty skills that follows the regular basic training for ANA soldiers.

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Page last modified: 10-11-2015 19:20:55 ZULU