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Afghan National Army

Afghan National Army
Soldiers of the Afghan National Army, including Commandos standing in the front
Active 1747 (268 years)
Country  Afghanistan
Branch Afghan Armed Forces
Type Army
Size 200,000[1]
Headquarters Kabul
Colors Black, Red and Green             
Anniversaries Victory Day parade
Independence Day
Equipment T-62, T-55 MBT (IISS 2010) 1,043+ IFVs & APCs
Chief of General Staff (CGS) General Sher Mohammad Karimi

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is the main branch of the Afghan Armed Forces, which is being trained and advised by NATO's Resolute Support Mission. The ANA is under the Afghan Ministry of Defense in Kabul, responsible for ground warfare. It is divided into six regional Corps, with the 201st in Kabul followed by the 203rd in Gardez, 205th in Kandahar, 207th in Herat, 209th in Mazar-i-Sharif and the 215th in Lashkar Gah. The current Chief of Staff of the Afghan National Army is Lieutenant General Qadam Shah Shahim.

Afghanistan's army traces its roots to the early 18th-century when the Emir Abdur Rahman Khan's reign.[2] Afghanistan remained neutral during the First and Second World Wars. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Afghan army was equipped by the Soviet Union. After the collapse of Mohammad Najibullah's regime in 1992, the army fragmented into militias under various regional warlords. This was followed by the Taliban government in the mid-1990s, which was overthrown and replaced by a new government under President Hamid Karzai.

To thwart and dissolve illegal armed groups, the Karzai administration began offering cash and vocational training to encourage members to join the army. NATO has expanded the Afghan armed forces to about 200,000 active personnel by 2015. There were more than 4,000 United States armed forces trainers in late 2009 and additional numbers from other NATO member states, providing training to the Afghan armed forces.[3] The majority of training of the ANA was undertaken in the newly established Afghan National Security University. As of 2015, all areas of Afghanistan are under Afghan control with ISAF playing a training and advising role.


  • History 1
    • Democratic Republic of Afghanistan 1.1
    • 1992 and after 1.2
    • New Afghan National Army 1.3
    • Operations 1.4
    • Training and current challenges 1.5
  • Structure 2
    • Locations 2.1
    • Kandak 2.2
    • Brigades 2.3
    • Corps 2.4
    • Special operations forces 2.5
      • ANA Special Forces 2.5.1
    • Combat Support Organizations 2.6
    • Officer's rank 2.7
  • Equipment 3
    • Armoured fighting vehicles 3.1
    • Quick Reaction Force vehicles 3.2
    • Main battle tanks 3.3
    • Air defense/artillery 3.4
    • Infantry weapons, etc. 3.5
    • Other vehicles 3.6
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Afghan royal soldiers of the Durrani Empire

Historically, Afghans have served in the army of the Ghaznavids (963–1187), Ghurids (1148–1215), Delhi Sultanate (1206–1527), and the Mughals (1526–1858).[4] The current Afghan army traces its origin to the early 18th century when the Hotaki dynasty rose to power in Kandahar and defeated the Persian Safavid Empire at the Battle of Gulnabad in 1722.[5]

When Ahmad Shah Durrani formed the Durrani Empire in 1747, the Afghan army fought a number of battles in the Punjab region of Hindustan during the 18th to the 19th century. One of the famous battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat in which the Afghan army decisively defeated the Hindu Maratha Empire.[6] The Afghans then fought with the British-backed Sikh Empire until finally defeating them in January 1842, at the end of the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Afghan infantry soldier in 1890

At the outbreak of the

  • Official website

External links

  • Kenneth Conboy, 'Elite Forces of India and Pakistan,' - also covers Afghanistan, including post 1978 coup creation of 26th Parachute Regiment from two previous command units.
  • Yuri V. Gankovskii, Istoriia Vooruzhennykh Sil Afganistana: 1747–1977, Moscow: Nauka (also reported as Institut Vostokovedeniya), 1985.
  • Antonio Giustozzi, ‘Shadow Ownership and SSR in Afghanistan,’ Chap. 11 in Tim Donnais (ed.) 'Local Ownership and Security Sector Reform,' DCAF/Lit Verlag, Zurich/Berlin, 2008 ‘Local Ownership.’ Portrays a varying level of vested interest/warlord subversion of reform among the various security agencies; little local ownership at the MOD/ANA despite several attempts to seize more local control and subvert the foreign process by not proving enough personnel, imposing different officers, and wanting a conscript force. The army is financially unsustainable even at 70,000 strong and not being trained for combat in small units.
  • Antonio Giustozzi, War, politics and society in Afghanistan, 1978–1992
  • James Hardy, 'British MP urges changes to Afghan forces,' Jane's Defence Weekly, v.48, no.35, August 31, 2011, p. 15 (ISSN: 0265-3818).
  • Lieutenant Colonel Gavin Keating, 'Living in the Twilight Zone: Advising the Afghan National Army at the Corps Level,' Australian Army Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 3, Summer 2011.
  • U.S. Army Area Handbook: Afghanistan, 1969, revised 1973
  • 'US seeks to halve ANSF funds by 2014,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 5 October 2011. Reporting comments by Lt Gen Caldwell, Commander NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A), 26 September 2011.

Further reading

  • Amtstutz, J. Bruce, Afghanistan: The First Five Years of Soviet Occupation, National Defense University, Washington DC, 1986.
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  2. ^ a b Library of Congress Country Study Afghanistan, 1986, 290-291.
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  7. ^ Ali Ahmad Jalali, Parameters, 2002.
  8. ^ Mark Sedra, Security Sector Reform in Afghanistan: An Instrument of the State-Building Project, in Andersen, Moller, and Stepputat, 'Fragile States and Insecure People: Violence, Security, and Statehood in the Twenty-first Century,' Palgrave McMillan, 2007, 153, citing Jalali, Parameters, 2002, 76.
  9. ^ Frank Clements, Conflict in Afghanistan: A Historical Encyclopedia, 2-3.
  10. ^ Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, Public Affairs, 2011, 90.
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  12. ^ Slinkin MF 1957. The first Afghan "landing" / / Soldier of Fortune. 2004. Number 2 (113). Pp. 13-14, via accessed August 2013.
  13. ^ Брудерер Г. Афганская война. Frankfurt am Main. 1995. С. 43.
  14. ^ Library of Congress Country Studies, Afghanistan: A Country Study, American University, 1986, Chapter 5: National Security, p.288-289.
  15. ^ Garthoff, Raymond L. Détente and Confrontation. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1994. p. 986.
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  18. ^ Jane's Military Review 1982–1983, David C. Isby, Ten Million Bayonets, Orion Publishing Group Ltd, 1988, Christopher F. Foss, Jane's Main Battle Tanks 1986–1987, Jane's Publishing Company Ltd, 1986: 'The order of battle of the.. army includes 11 inf divs and 3 armd divs, which like the rest of the army are under strength due to the internal problems within the country (p.158)
  19. ^ Urban 1988, p.55, citing Asia Week, 30 May 1980.
  20. ^ Olga Oliker, 'Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience,' RAND monograph MG1078A, 2011, p.38-39
  21. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly, Vol. 4, 1985, p.1148.
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  23. ^ Antonio Giustozzi, War, Politics, and Society in Afghanistan, 2000, 220. See also Davis, 1994.
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  25. ^ Zaloga, p. 39
  26. ^ Zaloga, p.39
  27. ^ 3rd Corps, by the AMF period, 'theoretically incorporated 14th Division, 30th Division, 822nd Brigade, Border Brigades, and approximately 800.. in the Governor's Force in Paktya, Ghazni, Paktika, and Khost Provinces. Michael Bhatia, Mark Sedra, 'Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Post-9/11 Security and Insurgency, Routledge, 2008, ISBN 113405422X, 209.
  28. ^ See Anthony Davis, 'The Afghan Army,' Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1993, and also, later, Anthony Davis, 'The Battlegrounds of Northern Afghanistan,' Jane's Intelligence Review, July 1994, p.323 onwards
  29. ^ Nils Wormer, 'The Networks of Kunduz: A History of Conflict and their actors from 1992 to 2001,' Afghan Analysts Network, August 2012, 10.
  30. ^ Antonio Giustozzi, 'Demodernisation,' Small Wars and Insurgencies, Vol. 15, No. 1.
  31. ^ Giustozzi, 'Demodernisation,' p.2
  32. ^ Anthony Davies, Jane's Intelligence Review, July 1994
  33. ^ Davies, 1995, p.317, cited in Fontini Christia, 'Alliance Formation in Civil Wars,' Cambridge University Press, 2012, p.68. See also p.257.
  34. ^ Ali A. Jalali, Afghanistan: The Anatomy of an Ongoing Conflict, Parameters, Spring 2001, pp. 85-98.
  35. ^ ReliefWeb ť Document ť Army develops despite militia disarmament issues Archived 11 February 2011 at WebCite and Mukhopadhyay, Dipali. "Disguised warlordism and combatanthood in Balkh: the persistence of informal power in the formal Afghan state." Conflict, Security & Development 9, no. 4 (2009): 535-564.
  36. ^ Antonio Giustozzi, 'Military Reform in Afghanistan,' in Confronting Afghanistan's Security Dilemmas, Bonn International Centre for Conversion, Brief 28, September 2003, p.23-31, see also Ali A. Jalali, 'Rebuilding Afghanistan’s National Army', Parameters, November 2002, notes 20-25, and
  37. ^ See also Bhatia et al., Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Post-9//11 Security and Insurgency, 283.
  38. ^, Afghan Military Forces, accessed August 2013.
  39. ^ Disarmament and Reintegration in Afghanistan ICG Asia Report N°65, 30 September 2003, p.3, citing Antonio Giustozzi, "Re-building the Afghan Army", paper presented during a joint seminar on "State Reconstruction and International Engagement in Afghanistan" of the Centre for Development Research, University of Bonn, and the Crisis States Program, Development Research Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science, 30 May-1 June 2003, Bonn.
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  42. ^ CBCNews: "Defence minister says Afghan Army must be 5 times larger" Archived 11 February 2011 at WebCite
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  44. ^ Terrence K. Kelly, Nora Bensahel, Olga Oliker, Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan: Identifying Lessons for Future Efforts, RAND Corporation, 2011, 22.
  45. ^ 3rd Special Forces Group. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  46. ^ Institute for War and Peace Reporting, "Woman Skydiver Leaps Ahead"
  47. ^ CArlotta Gall, 'An Afghan Army Evolves From Fantasy to Slightly Ragged Reality', New York Times, January 25, 2003.
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  68. ^ DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE BLOGGERS ROUNDTABLE WITH ARMY COLONEL Colonel Thomas Umberg. MAY 17, 2010. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  69. ^ 111128-F-HS721-086 | Flickr – Photo Sharing!. Flickr. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  70. ^ Mack Davis Afghan National Army Assists in Plane Crash Aftermath. USA Special to American Forces Press Service. February 14, 2005
  71. ^ 49 Taliban killed by Afghan forces. Associated Press. March 23, 2007
  72. ^ Afghan Army helicopters and soldiers assist flood victims. Black Anthem Military News. April 2, 2007
  73. ^ Clash erupts between Afghan, Pakistani forces over border fence. Monsters and Critics. April 20, 2007
  74. ^ Afghan Officials Want War Goals Maintained. The Washington Independent. February 26, 2009
  75. ^ Operation Achilles making progress. News Blaze. March 8, 2007
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  77. ^ Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) Programme at the Wayback Machine (archived April 4, 2009). September 2007
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  80. ^ a b U.S. surge is big, Afghan army is crucial – World news – South and Central Asia – Afghanistan – MSNBC (2009-12-05). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  81. ^ a b Corruption, indiscipline slow Afghan training – Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq. Army Times. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  82. ^ "Drug problem adding to challenge in Afghanistan," Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2012
  83. ^ U.S. trainers bemoan Afghan corruption. (2009-12-09). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  84. ^ a b c Dianna Cahn Troops fear corruption outweighs progress of Afghan forces. Stars and Stripes. December 9, 2009. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
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  86. ^ Lardner, Richard, (Associated Press), "Investigation: Afghan Troops Ran, Hid During Deadly Battle", Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 11 June 2011.
  87. ^ Wood, Paul. "US troops show concern over readiness of Afghan army", BBC News, October 16, 2010.
  88. ^ The Globe and Mail, "Canada's quest to turn Afghanistan’s army of phantoms into fighters," last updated January 10, 2012.
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  92. ^ Jim Garamone and David Mays, American Forces Press Service Afghan, Coalition Forces Battle Taliban, Narcotics, Emphasize Training. October 19, 2007
  93. ^ Spencer Ackerman, "Not A Single Afghan Battalion Fights Without U.S. Help," Wired, September 26, 2011.
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  97. ^ James Gordon Meek, Training Afghanistan troops gets tough for U.S. troops as trust issues worsen, New York Daily News, December 13, 2009
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  101. ^ Andrea Shalal-Esa U.S. arms sales could hit $50 billion next year. Reuters. July 20, 2010. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
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  103. ^ Daniel Wasserbly, 'Pentagon: ANSF will still require 'substantial' help after 2014,' Jane's Defence Weekly, and
  104. ^ NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, 'Information Paper: Ministry of Defense: A Year in Review,' 23 January 2011.
  105. ^ Tim Mahon. Basic steps: Afghan Army and police trainers and trainees see progress. Training and Simulation Journal. February 01, 2010
  106. ^ a b c Afghan National Army update: July 2011 – Threat Matrix. (2011-07-21). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  107. ^, Afghan Army gets armored personnel carriers, April 25, 2005
  108. ^ Bagram-Kabul-Bagram at the Wayback Machine (archived October 19, 2006). Austin Bay Blog. 21 June 2005
  109. ^ CJ Radin, Long War Journal, 2007-8
  110. ^ Status Report From the Afghan East. America's North Shore Journal. December 9, 2008
  111. ^ Afghan National Army activates second regional command, September 23, 2004, AFPS
  112. ^ (First to Fire, "FA Journal", Jan/Feb 2007)
  113. ^ a b c Afghan National Army Air Corps: February 2009 Update – The Long War Journal Archived 11 February 2011 at WebCite
  114. ^, Status Report from the Afghan South, December 2008
  115. ^ Phoenix Legacy Vol 1 Issue 2, Task Force Phoenix, January 31, 2009
  116. ^ Anthony Cordesman, 'Winning in Afghanistan: Afghan Force Development,' Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 14, 2006
  117. ^, 38—Y—Construction Services for the Second Battalion, 209th headquarters facilities, ANA Kunduz Installation Phase II, Kunduz, Afghanistan. Retrieved August 2009.
  118. ^ Amazingly capable « Your experience may vary, 30 January 2010
  119. ^ DVIDS – News – Afghan leaders recognize military progress in Helmand. (2011-04-17). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  120. ^ Danish chief visits UK advisors in Helmand – British Army Website. (2010-10-07). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  121. ^ James Sims Change of Command at Camp Phoenix. May 31, 2009. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  122. ^ NPR: New Afghan Commandos Take to the Frontlines
  123. ^ Afghan National Army update, May 2011. The Long War Journal (2011-05-09). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  124. ^ a b c d e US Department of Defense, Gates Visits New Afghan Commando Training Site
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  129. ^ a b c d Afghan special forces expand to handle night raids, delicate missions, but training takes time. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2012-01-01.
  130. ^ Kirk Putnam Afghan National Army Graduates First Elite Special Forces Unit
  131. ^ Afghanistan’s First Special Forces Team Graduates. May 13, 2010
  132. ^ Making the Afghan Special Forces | Special Force. (2010-05-20). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  133. ^ Photos: Special Forces Join Forces. NPR. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  134. ^ Special Operations: Afghanistan Grows Its Own Special Forces. (2010-11-12). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  135. ^ DVIDS – News – ANA special forces soldiers receive berets in ceremony. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  136. ^ DVIDS – News – Afghan special forces receive berets in ceremony. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  137. ^ DVIDS – News – Afghan National Army connects, surveys, secures in Sangin. (2011-11-24). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  138. ^ DVIDS – News – Afghan National Army hosts Sangin residents, promotes security. (2011-11-24). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
  139. ^ Combat Logistics Battalion 1. (2010-01-30). Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
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  143. ^ U.S. completes M1114 Humvee transfer to Afghan National Army -, January 1, 2013
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  150. ^ First production MSFVs shipped to Afghan National Army | Article | The United States Army. November 14, 2011. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
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  156. ^ SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
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  160. ^ CBC Canadian military donates 2,500 rifles to Afghan army
  161. ^ Afghan Soldiers Learn to Maintain Medium Tactical Vehicles, U.S. Department of Defense, January 9, 2006.
  162. ^ D. Keith Johnson India Delivers 50 New Trucks to Afghan National Army. US DoD. March 9, 2005


Other vehicles

Model Type Number Dates Details
Makarov Semi-automatic pistol
TT Semi-automatic pistol
M9 Semi-automatic pistol +15,700
Stechkin APS Fully automatic Machine pistol
Mosin-Nagant Bolt action rifle Ceremonial use.
AKM Assault rifle Storage.
AK-47 Assault rifle Phased out of the service since 2008. Used by Afghan Special Forces and some regular units.
AK-74 Assault rifle Storage.
Type 56 Assault rifle Assault rifle Storage.
Kbs wz. 1996 Beryl Assault rifle After 2007 Use by regular units.
M16 rifle Assault rifle 104,000 2007–2009 The U.S. military provided the Afghan army with M-16 rifles as part of a modernization effort.
M4 carbine Assault rifle 10,000 2008–2009 Only used by Afghan Army Commandos and Special Forces. M4s sold as part of a 2006 Foreign Military Sales package. Additional M4s sold as a 2008 Foreign Military Sales package.
C7 Assault rifle 2,500 2007–2008 On December 23, 2007, Canadian media reported that the Canadian Forces would supply the Afghan National Army with 2,500 surplus Colt Canada C7 rifles (a Canadian variant of the M16), along with training and ammunition in order to Westernise Afghan equipment.[160] In June 2011, the Afghan National Army returned the loaned C7 rifles as the ANA preferred the American M16 rifle.
Dragunov sniper rifle Sniper rifle
M249 SAW Light machine gun
RPK Light machine gun
M240 machine gun General purpose machine gun
PK machine gun General purpose machine gun
RPD General purpose machine gun Storage
DShK Heavy Machine Gun
Minigun Gatling-type machine gun

Infantry weapons, etc.

Model Image Type Number Details
BM-21 Grad Multiple rocket launcher 50
ZSU-23-4 Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun 20 were delivered from USSR.
ZU-23-2 Anti-aircraft gun Mostly left by the Soviet Union at the time of the withdrawal. Many mounted on trucks as improvised fire support systems.
ZPU-4 Anti-aircraft gun Variants include ZPU-1 and ZPU-2.
2A18 Howitzer 152[158][159] As of September 2013 the ANA is in possession of 152 D30 howitzers, the supply of which is being coordinated by Picatinny Arsenal, the US military center for excellence in Artillery. This will rise to 204 systems eventually.
130 mm towed field gun M1954 (M-46) Howitzer
M114 155mm Howitzer Howitzer 24 [159]

Air defense/artillery

Model Image Type Number Dates Details
T-55 Main battle tank 600 1961–1991 50 T-54s and 50 T-55s were ordered in 1961 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1962 and 1964 (T-54s were previously in Soviet service). 200 T-54s were ordered in 1978 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1978 and 1979 (the vehicles were previously in Soviet service). 705 T-55s were ordered in 1978 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1978 and 1991 (the vehicles were previously in Soviet service).[156] There were 1,000 T-54s, T-55s, T-6s and PT-76s in service as of 1 April 1992.[157]
T-62 Main battle tank 1973–1991 100 ordered in 1973 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1975 and 1976. 155 ordered in 1979 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1979 and 1991. T-62 variants in service with the Afghan army were T-62, T-62M and T-62M1.

Main battle tanks

On 30 September 2015 Textran received a contract for an additional 55 M117 Commando Select Vehicles[155]

By 7 March 2013 the Textron had received orders for 634 MSFVs. They report that 300 of these have already been fielded.[154]

In April 2012 it was announced that a second option to supply a further 65 MSFV in all three variants has been awarded to Textron Marine & Land Systems. This brings the total number of MSFVs to 369.[153]

In March 2012 Textron Marine & Land Systems who have produced all of the existing MSFVs were awarded a contract for an additional 64 MSFV to be sent to Afghanistan. These will again be based on the M117. Three variants of MSFV with Turret; MSFV with Objective Gunner Protection Kit; and MSFV Ambulance.[151][152]

The US Army report that the Quick Reaction Forces will be equipped with 352 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles or MSFVs. The MSFV is an updated version of a vehicle supplied by Textron Marine & Land Systems who also produce the M1117. The MSFV utilizing off the shelf parts where possible significantly reducing costs. The standard MSFV APC can be supplied in three options, Gunner Protection Kit, with Turret and as an Armored Ambulance. By November 14, 2011, 18 had been delivered.[150] It is currently not clear whether the 281 MSFVs are in addition to the 490 M117'S or part of the order.

In order to use the MSFV the members of the quick reaction forces must be trained in their upkeep and maintenance. This began by training Afghan instructors who will help to pass on the knowledge to the Quick Reaction Forces members with increasing levels of responsibility. Currently most of the training is being undertaken by American and French instructors.[124]

It is likely that 281 of the 352 MSFV will be M1117 Armored Security Vehicle while the other 71 will be other vehicle types including the Navistar 7000 series Medium Tactical Vehicles (MTV) the 4x4 chassis of which is used for the MRAP The US has ordered 9900 of the International MaxxPro MRAP configuration alone for the Afghan National Army and the Iraqi army.[149] Additional support vehicles will also be required to maintain a force such as this in the field.

MaxxPro Dash

Other sources report that 352 MSFV (which include M1117s) will be supplied to the ANA.[124][148]

There is some confusion over the exact amount and type of vehicles in the QRF with various sources giving different figures. While some sources reporting on the formation of the QRF state that 440 – 490 M1117s have been ordered it is unclear whether all of these will be assigned to the QRF.[146][147] The first 18 M1117s were sent to Afghanistan in November 2011.[145] in March 2012 the ANA will take delivery of the first 58 of 352 MSFVs which will include some or all of the M1117s.[124]

The Quick Reaction Forces battalions are being organized as motorized infantry equipped with 352 Mobile Strike Force Vehicles (MSFV). Shipments of the Vehicles began in November 2011[145] and the ANA is to take possession of the first 58 in March 2012.[124]

The M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, or ASV

Quick Reaction Force vehicles

Model Image Type Number Dates Details
BMP-1 Armoured Personnel Carriers 40 After the Soviet War in Afghanistan a number of BMP-1 IFVs fell into the hands of Afghan Mujahideen.
BMP-2 Armoured Personnel Carriers 60 1987–2002 150 along with 1,500 9M111 Fagot ATGMs were ordered in 1987 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1987 and 1991 (some of the vehicles were possibly previously in Soviet service). 550 BMP-1s and BMP-2s in service in 1992. Between 60 and 80 BMP-1s and BMP-2s were delivered from Russia after 2002.
M113A2 Armoured Personnel Carriers 173 In 2005, 173 M113A2 APCs also entered service with the ANA [141]
Humvee Armoured Personnel Carriers 8,500 Up-Armored M1151 and M1152 versions. In August 2010, an order was placed for a further 2,526 M1152A1 HMMWVs with B2 armor kits, for the Afghan National Guard & police.[142] 950 M1114 Humvees delivered by November 2012.[143]
M1117 Armored Security Vehicle Internal security vehicle 634 + 55 In addition to ASV and APC configurations, other mission variants include: command and control, ambulance, engineering, maintenance, mortar, and reconnaissance vehicles. On September 30, 2015 a contract was signed for an additional 55 M1117s.[144]
International MaxxPro Armoured Personnel Carrier 155 Afghanistan Defense Ministry’s Spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi confirmed that Afghan armed forces will receive 212 MRAP vehicles from the United States by the end this year with so far being trained on how to use the received 40 MRAPs.

Armoured fighting vehicles

Besides Nato, Afghanistan has been increasingly turning to its regional allies, India and Russia for military aid and supplies. Both countries supported the Northern Alliance, with funding, training, supplies and medical treatment of wounded fighters, against the Taliban for years prior to the U.S led invasion in 2001. And post invasion, India has been helping with several billion dollars invested in infrastructure development projects in Afghanistan besides the training of Afghan officers in India, but has been reluctant to provide military aid due to fears of antagonizing its regional rival Pakistan. In 2013, After years of subtle reminders, the Afghan government sent a wish list of heavy weapons to India.[79] The list includes as many as 150 battle tanks T-72, 120 (105 mm) field guns, a large number of 82 mm mortars, one medium lift transport aircraft AN-32, two squadrons of medium lift Mi-17 and attack helicopters Mi-35, and a large number of trucks. In 2014, India signed a deal with Russia and Afghanistan where it would pay Russia for all the heavy equipment requested by Afghanistan instead of directly supplying them. The deal also includes the refurbishment of heavy weapons left behind since the Soviet war.[78][140]

Since the early 1970s, the Afghan army has been equipped with the Soviet AK-47 as its main service rifle. Today, however, the American M16 rifle is added to usage with the AK-47. After 2007, billions of dollars worth of military equipment, facilities, and other forms of contributions have been provided to the Afghan National Army. It also included the building of a national military command center, with training compounds across the country. Some of the weapons included American Humvees and other trucks, M16 rifles, and bulletproof vests. The ANA has a contract with International Trucks. It will provide a fleet of 2,781 trucks which can be used for transporting personnel, water, petroleum and a recovery truck.


Lieutenant General
Major General
Brigadier General
Lieutenant Colonel
First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Marshal Setar Jenral Dagar Jenral Turan Jenral Brid Jenral Dagarwal Dagarman Jagran
Lomri Baridman Dvahomi Baridman

Officer's rank

In order to enable the ANA to be self-sufficient, Brigades will form a Corps Logistics Kandaks (CLK) which will be responsible to providing equipment to the 90 Infantry Battalions. The CSSK will be responsible for the maintenance of the new heavier equipment including APCs.[106] In the 215th Corps area, the U.S. Marine Combat Logistics Battalion 1 announced in January 2010 that the training of the ANA 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th ANA Corps Logistics Kandak has gone very well and that the unit was capable of undertaking the majority of day-to-day activities on their own.[139]

Each CSK includes an Intelligence Company called a Cashf Tolai. Each Intelligence Company is responsible for collecting information about the surrounding area and Taliban activities.[137] The members of the unit interact closely with the local residents in an effort to deny the Taliban control over the surrounding area.[138]

Combat Support Kandaks (CSK) provide specialized services for infantry battalions. While most ANA Battalions have a CSK they are underdeveloped and do not fit the requirements of a growing army. The CSK role includes motor fleet maintenance, specialized communications, scouting, engineering, and long range artillery units. Eventually one fully developed CSK will be assigned to each of the 24 ANA Combat Brigades.[106]

As the ANA has grown to almost its full size the focus has now changed to further development of the force so that it becomes self sustainable. Development of the ANA Combat Support Organizations, the Corps Logistics Kandaks (CLK) and the Combat Support Kandaks (CSK) is vital to self-sustainability.

Combat Support Organizations

The force numbered between 1,000 to 1,500 in December 2011.[129] This unit also has female soldiers to act as support to deal with female civilians, such as searches, interviews or medical examinations. There are plans to create one special forces platoon of just female soldiers so they can talk to families (women and children).[129]

In May 2010 the first class of the ANA Special Forces graduated from their 10-week qualification course and moved on to the operational portion of their training. In November 2010, the ANA Special Forces Class 1 received their tan berets in a ceremony at Camp Morehead, Kabul Province, after completing 26 weeks of on-the-job training partnered with U.S. Special Forces. The initial selection involved taking the 145 commandos who volunteered, putting them through a one-week qualification process (similar to the one used in the United States), and finding, as in the U.S., that only about half (69) passed. These men formed the first four A-Teams (of 15 men each). Some of them who passed the 1st are being used to help American Special Forces train the 2nd class of candidates.[134] Special Forces soldiers are trained to focus on interaction with the population through jirgas with village elders, but capable of unilateral operations.[135] A second ANA Special Forces class completed training in December 2010.[136]

The ANA Special Forces were first conceptualized in 2009 and established in 2010.[129] The first Special Forces team, whose soldiers were selected from the Special Forces.[130][131] Initially all the Special Forces candidates were planned to come from the Commando Battalion, only requiring 10 weeks of training. However, after the initial period it was planned that Special Forces recruiting was to be conducted throughout the army, and initial Special Forces training was to be 15 weeks. Commando graduates of the special forces course will retain their 'commando' tab and will also have a 'special forces' tab on top of the commando tab and they also receive a tan beret. These candidates are normally selected after serving four years as a Commando.[129] They were attached to teams of U.S. Special Forces operating in Kandahar province in the 2010 operation.[132][133]

ANA Special Forces

ANASOC now has a Special Mission Wing which was inaugurated on 21 July 2012 at a ceremony in Kabul.[127] The special Mission Wing will more its own Battalion in ANASOC.[128]

In July 2012, the Special Operations Command was officially established as a division-sized special operations force formation, including a command and staff. The command, with the status of a division, now boasts between 10,000 and 11,000 soldiers.[125][126] Previously this was organised as one Brigade with 8 battalions all with a minimum of 6 kandaks. Due to the standard size of a brigade in the ANA, the ANASOC is likely to be split into 3 - 4 brigades, one of which will be a Special Forces Brigade.

From mid-2011, the ANA began establishing a Special Operations Command (ANASOC) to control the ANA Commando Brigade and the ANA Special Forces. It is headquartered at Camp Moorehead in Wardak Province, located six miles south of Kabul.[123] The training center is named after 5th Special Forces Group soldier MSG Kevin Morehead, who was killed in Iraq in 2003.[124]

In July 2007 the ANA graduated its first commandos. The commandos underwent a grueling three-month course being trained by American special forces. They received training in advanced infantry skills as well as training in first aid and tactical driving. They are fully equipped with US equipment and have received US style training.[122] By the end of 2008 the six ANA commando battalions were to be stationed in the southern region of Afghanistan assisting the Canadian forces.

Afghan commandos from the Sixth Commando Kandak wait for two Mi-17 helicopters of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) to land as they practice infiltration techniques at Camp Morehead in the outer regions of Kabul.

Special operations forces

In late 2008 it was announced that the 201st Corps' former area of responsibility would be divided, with a Capital Division being formed in Kabul and the corps concentrating its effort further forward along the border. The new division, designated the 111th Capital Division, became operational on April 21, 2009.[121] It has a First Brigade and Second Brigade (both forming) as well as a Headquarters Special Security Brigade.

  • Jalalabad, Second Brigade at Pol-e-Charkhi, and only a single battalion of First Brigade at the Presidential Palace.[109] The corps is charged with operation in eastern Afghanistan, including Kabul, Logar, Kapisa, Konar, and Laghman. Its battlespace includes the Afghan capital of Kabul as well as vital routes running north and south, and valleys leading from the Pakistani border into Afghanistan. Currently the Third Brigade of the 201st Corps is the only unit that has control of an area of responsibility in Afghanistan without the aid or assistance of U.S. or coalition forces for its command system.[110]
  • [113]
  • 205th Corps (Kandahar) – has the responsibility for the provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, and 4th Brigade Urozgan under Brigadier General Zafar Khan's control.[114] It consists of four brigades, a commando battalion and three garrisons. The corps has integrated artillery and airlift capacity, supplied by a growing Kandahar Wing of the Afghan Air Force.[115]
  • [113]
  • [113]
  • 215th Corps (Lashkar Gah) – The Afghan government has approved a new seventh corps of the Afghan National Army – Corps 215 Maiwand – to be based in the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah where the first fresh U.S. troops are expected to arrive. The 215th is a new unit, developed specifically to partner with the Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Helmand.[118] On 28 January 2010, Xinhua reported that General Sayed Mallok would command the new corps. (Military Corps formed to strength security in Taliban hotbed) The corps will cover all parts of Helmand, half of Farah and most parts of southwestern Nimroz province. The corps was formally established on 1 April 2010. 1st Bde, 215th Corps, is at Garmsir, partnered with a USMC Regimental Combat Team.[119] Elements of 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, have been reported at Forward Operating Base Delaram, Farah Province. 3rd Bde, 215th Corps, partnered with the UK Task Force Helmand is at Camp Shorabak.[120]

Six serve as regional land commands for the ANA:

Currently the Afghan National Army maintains seven corps; each corps is responsible for one major area of the country. Each corps has three to four subordinate brigades, and each brigade has four infantry battalions as its basic fighting units. Each infantry battalion is assigned a specific area for which it is responsible, the battalion's mission is to secure its area from internal and external threats. Originally, the four outlying corps were assigned one or two brigades, with the majority of the manpower of the army based in Kabul's 201st Corps. This was superseded by a buildup in which each corps added extra brigades. Establishment of the corps started when four regional corps commanders and some of their staff were appointed on 1 September 2004.

Members of the 215th Corps in Helmand Province
Members of the 209th Corps in Balkh Province
Afghan National Army Organization (not necessarily complete, up to date, or authoritative)


A total of 14 regionally oriented brigades were planned for 2008. According to Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A) thirteen of these brigades were to be light infantry, one to be mechanized and one was a commando.


Seven Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) battalions were created in 2012-13, one battalion for each of the ANA's corps and divisions. They are being created by converting existing infantry battalions into QRF battalions at the NMAA Armour Branch School. The QRF battalions was trained and fielded in 2012 and 2013. The QRF battalions were the first major ANA users of armoured vehicles.[106]

As of September 2005, 28 of the 31 Afghan National Army battalions were ready for combat operations and many had already participated in them. At least nine brigades were planned at this time, each consisting of six battalions. By March 2007, half of the army had been achieved with 46 of the planned 76 Afghan battalions operating in the fore or in concert with NATO forces. The size and limits of the ANA were specified in the Bonn II Agreement, signed in 2002.

The basic unit in the Afghan National Army is the kandak (battalion), consisting of 600 troops. Kandaks may be further broken down into four toli (company-sized units).[105] Although the vast majority of kandaks are infantry, at least one mechanized and one tank battalion have been formed; more may be planned. Every ANA Corps was assigned commando units.



Amongst support facilities is the Chimtallah National Ammunition Depot, a Central Ammunition Depot.

A January 2011 NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan information paper described the ANA as being led by the Chief of General Staff, supervising the Vice Chief of the General Staff, the Vice Chief of the Armed Forces (an Air Force officer), the Director of the General Staff, himself supervising the General Staff itself, and eight major commands. The ANA Ground Force Command, under a lieutenant general, directed the five ground forces corps and the 111th Capital Division. The other seven commands included the ANA Special Operations Command, the Afghan Air Force (under a lieutenant general), Army Support Command, the ANA Recruiting Command (ANAREC), the HSSB, and the Detainee Guard Force.[104]


On July 30, 2013, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy told reporters in Washington D.C., according to Jane's Defence Weekly, that '... a residual [U.S.] force would be needed to help the ANSF complete more mundane tasks such as logistics, ensuring soldiers get their paychecks, procuring food, awarding fuel contracts, and more.'[103] Lavoy noted that the Afghans are still developing those skills and it will be "well beyond the 2014 date" before they are expected to be capable.

As of mid-2012, a steadily increasing concern over the past couple of years, while still not reflective of the readiness and state of Afghan forces and police as a whole, are the deaths of U.S. and coalition forces at the hands of Afghan forces. These individuals are either Taliban or other militant infiltrators, disaffected or disturbed soldiers, turncoats, or who were disturbed by perceived and/or actual improper conduct by coalition forces. It has worsened enough to the point where two decrees were issued by the Defense Department in the summer of 2012 stating that all American soldiers serving here are told to carry a magazine with their weapon at all times, and that when a group of American soldiers is present and on duty and Afghan forces are also present, one American soldier must stand apart on guard with a ready weapon.[102]

According to Marin Strmecki, a member of the Defense Policy Board and a former top Pentagon adviser on Afghanistan in a speech to the United States Senate, "the Afghan Army should increase to 250,000 soldiers ... Only when Afghan security forces reaches those numbers would they achieve the level necessary for success in counterinsurgency."[100] In 2009, U.S. Barack Obama called for an expansion of the Afghan National Army to 260,000 soldiers. The cost would reach $20 billion and provide the army with more modern equipment.[100] Sales of US Arms to Afghanistan alone totaled nearly $20 billion for fiscal years 2009 through 2011.[101]

Germany alleged that the US military took 15% of €50 million the German government gave to a trust fund to build up the ANA.[99]

In other cases NATO trainers spent large amounts of time verifying that Afghan rosters are accurate – that they are not padded with "ghosts" being "paid" by Afghan commanders who quietly collected the bogus wages.[98]

In some cases, US trainers have reported missing vehicles, weapons and other military equipment, and outright theft of fuel provided by the U.S.[84] Death threats have also been leveled against some U.S. officers who tried to stop Afghan soldiers from stealing. Some Afghan soldiers often find improvised explosive devices and snip the command wires instead of marking them and waiting for U.S. forces to come to detonate them. The Americans say this just allows the insurgents to return and reconnect them.[84] US trainers frequently had to remove the cell phones of Afghan soldiers hours before a mission for fear that the operation will be compromised by bragging, gossip and reciprocal warnings.[97]

According to statements made by Colonel Thomas McGrath in October 2007, the coalition supporting the build-up of the ANA has seen progress and is pleased with the Afghan performance in recent exercises. McGrath estimated that the ANA should be capable of carrying out independent brigade-size operations by the spring of 2008.[92] However, as of October 1, 2011, four years after McGrath's estimated date for independent brigade-size operations, not a single one of the ANA's 180 battalions can carry out independent operations, much less an entire brigade.[93] According to a 2009 news report, the ANA has been plagued by inefficiency and corruption.[80] Training efforts have been drastically slowed by the corruption, widespread illiteracy, vanishing supplies, and lack of discipline.[81][94] According to the United States Government Accounting Office, the illiteracy problem has been a major contributing factor to the ongoing shortage of non-commissioned officers, and of enlisted men trained in technical skills, because according to the report, these positions require greater literacy.[95] General John Allen stated in 2013 that more than 50% of the ANA can read and write at a first grade level.[96] What began as a voluntary literacy program became mandatory for basic army training in early 2011.[64]

Construction of ANA base in southern Afghanistan

It was reported in 2009 that in one new, untried, unit in Baghlan Province, some soldiers have been found cowering in ditches rather than fighting.[83] Some were suspected of collaborating with the Taliban against the Americans or engaging in reciprocal exchanges on offensives or unsanctioned psychological warfare through boasts or using their knowledge to communicate with friends or family in the battlezone. "They don’t have the basics, so they lay down," said Capt. Michael Bell, who is one of a team of U.S. and Hungarian mentors tasked with training Afghan soldiers. "I ran around for an hour trying to get them to shoot, getting fired on. I couldn’t get them to shoot their weapons.".[84] For example, in multiple firefights during the February 2010 NATO offensive in Helmand Province, many Afghan soldiers did not aim — they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high.[85] During the battle for Combat Outpost Keating in October 2009, ANA troops ran away, hid under their beds, and stole from the American barracks.[86] Desertion remains a problem. One in every four combat soldiers quit the army during the 12-month period ending in September 2009, according to data from the U.S. Defense Department and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The problem was so severe that the army was forced to write off 2,000 soldiers and officers in a usual month. In order to filter potential deserters from the rank, some of the soldiers are trained by being deployed in real operations.[87] According to NATO statistics, the attrition rate averaged 32 per cent annually over the 12 months that ended in November 2011.[88] In December 2011, The Globe and Mail stated that due to problems with officers calculating the number of soldiers within their own ranks, "one educated guess at the true size of the Afghan army puts the force at perhaps 100,000 personnel on duty".[89] A study published in the U.S. professional journal Military Review in 2009 estimated the ANA could never grow larger than 100,000 men, because it is currently losing 42% of the entire force every year to desertion and non-reenlistment.[90] In December 2011 Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, said the ANA numbered 180,000 personnel, which is expected to reach at least 240,000 in the coming years.[91]

Another significant problem for the Afghan National Army is a high level of drug abuse amongst its soldiers. The Special Investigator General for Afghan Reconstruction reported the number of ANA soldiers using drugs was "at least 50 percent" and may be as high as 75 percent of all Afghan soldiers, according to some reports.[82]

According to a 2009 news report, the Afghan National Army was plagued by inefficiency and corruption.[80] U.S. training efforts have been drastically slowed by the corruption, widespread illiteracy, vanishing supplies, and lack of discipline.[81] Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, stated that the literacy rate in the ANA will reach over 50% by January 2012. What began as a voluntary literacy program became mandatory for basic army training in early 2011.[64]

Sizable numbers of Afghan National Army Officers are sent to be trained in India either at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, the National Defence Academy near Pune or the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. The Indian Military Academy which has been in existence since 1932, provides a 4-year degree to army officers, while the National Defence Academy is a tri-service college provides a 3-year degree after which officers undergo a 1-year specialization in their respective service colleges. The Officers Training Academy on the other hand provides a 49-week course to Graduate officer candidates. In 2014 the number of Afghan officers in training in India was nearly 1100.[78] A total of 1200 Afghan officers have been trained up to 2013.[79]

According to Lieutenant Colonel Kane Mangin of the Australian-led International Artillery Training Team, the ANA Artillery Training School in Kabul is expected to train enough officers and NCOs for about 23 artillery batteries, using the D-30 howitzers of the ANA Artillery Branch.

Formal education and professional development is currently conducted at two main ANATC schools, both in Kabul. The National Military Academy of Afghanistan, located near Kabul International Airport, is a four-year military university, which will produce degreed second lieutenants in a variety of military professions. NMAA's first cadet class entered its second academic year in spring 2006. A contingent of US and Turkish military instructors jointly mentor the NMAA faculty and staff. The Command and General Staff College, located in southern Kabul, prepares mid-level ANA officers to serve on brigade and corps staffs. France established the CGSC in early 2004, and a cadre of French Army instructors continues to oversee operations at the school. A National Defense University will also be established at a potential site in northwestern Kabul. Eventually all initial officer training (to include the NMAA) as well as the CGSC will be re-located to the new NDU facility.

The Canadian Forces supervises the Combined Training Exercise portion of initial military training, where trainee soldiers, NCOs, and officers are brought together in field training exercises at the platoon, company and (theoretically) battalion levels to certify them ready for field operations. In the Regional Corps, line ANA battalions have attached Coalition Embedded Training Teams that continue to mentor the battalion's leadership, and advise in the areas of intelligence, communications, fire support, logistics and infantry tactics.

The United Kingdom also conducts initial infantry officer training and commissioning at the Officer Candidate School. While OCS is administratively under OTB's control, it is kept functionally separate. OCS candidates are young men with little or no military experience. The British Army also conduct initial and advanced Non-Commissioned Officer training as well in a separate NCO Training Brigade.

A French Army advisory team oversees the training of officers for staff and platoon or company command in a combined commissioning/infantry officer training unit called the Officer Training Brigade, also located at Kabul Military Training Center. OTB candidates in the platoon- and company- command courses are usually older former militia and mujaheddin leaders with various levels of military experience.

Individual basic training is conducted primarily by Afghan National Army instructors and staff at ANATC's Kabul Military Training Center, situated on the eastern edge of the capital. The ANA are still supported, however, with various levels of CSTC-A oversight, mentorship, and assistance. The US military assists in the basic and advanced training of enlisted recruits, and also runs the Drill Instructor School which produces new training NCOs for the basic training courses. Basic training has been expanded to include required literacy courses for recruits who don't already know how to read.

Each ANA HQ above Kandak (battalion) level has a US ETT (Embedded Training Teams) or an OMLT (Operational Mentor and Liaison Team) of NATO trainers and mentors acting as liaisons between ANA and ISAF. The ETTs and OMLTs coordinate operational planning and ensure that the ANA units receive enabling support.[77]

Various International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan contributing countries have undertaken different responsibilities in the creation of the ANA. All these various efforts are managed on the Coalition side by Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A), a three-star level multi-national command headquartered in downtown Kabul. On the ANA side, as of July 2006 all training and education in the Army is managed and implemented by the newly formed Afghan National Army Training Command (ANATC), a two-star command which reports directly to the Chief of the General Staff. All training centers and military schools are under ANATC HQ. The coalition forces are partnered with the ANA to mentor and support formal training through Task Force Phoenix. This program was formalized in April 2003, based near the Kabul Military Training Center coordinating collective and individual training, mentoring, and Coalition Force support.

ANA soldier assigned to the Mobile Strike Force Kandak fires a RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher during a live-fire exercise supervised by the Marines with the Mobile Strike Force Advisor Team on Camp Shorabak, Helmand province.
Maj. A. Wahid Naiz (center right), a pharmacist with the ANA Medical General Support Unit, and his assistant (far right) issue an ANA soldier prescribed medication during his visit to the clinic in Pawawan province.
Col. Shirin Shah Kowbandi giving a speech to soldiers during an awards ceremony in Helmand province
Newly trained ANA soldiers recite the oath ceremony of the first term bridmals at the Ghazi Military Training Center in Kabul province.
Lieutenant General Aminullah Karim speaking to soldiers at the Kabul Military Training Center in Kabul
Soldiers training on how to clear improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on roads

Training and current challenges

Operation Strike of the Sword or Operation Khanjar began when units moved into the Helmand river valley in the early hours of July 2, 2009. About 4,000 Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade as well as 650 Afghan soldiers were involved, supported by ISAF aircraft. The operation was also the largest airlift offensive since the Vietnam War.

  • Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword)

ANA artillerymen fired multiple D-30 artillery pieces during a night mission at Patrol Base Sorkh Bid during Exercise Eagle's Flight. The ANA's 4th Brigade were a step closer to deploying gun detachments outside Coalition Patrol Bases after a successful live fire artillery shoot during July 2012. Exercise Eagle's Flight showcased the improving capability of the 2nd Battery, or Canon Tolay, as they fired high explosive, smoke and illumination rounds onto a designated target area near Patrol Base Sorkh Bid, northern Kandahar. 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment Task Group (3 RAR TG) offensive support mentor Captain Raj Chetty said the ANA has been efficiently protecting the locals for a long time. "The battery was well educated and trained before we arrived, and they are at a stage now that [shows] they are ready to deploy, we are just doing final assessments before they go out there."[76]

  • Operation Eagle's Flight

Operation Panchai Palang, or Operation Panther's Claw, was a UK-led military operation in Helmand Province. Afghan and ISAF contributed a total of 3,000 soldiers for the operation. The alliance targeted Taliban insurgents involved in the drug trade. The battle ran simultaneously with the U.S.-Afghan Operation Strike of the Sword.

  • Operation Panther's Claw

After 10 months in Taliban hands, the town of Musa Qala was retaken by ANA backed by ISAF and coalition support. Taliban insurgents had scattered mostly to the north.

  • Battle of Musa Qala

ISAF with ANA alongside successfully engaged Taliban extremist strongholds. This operation was launched on March 6, 2007, to stabilize northern Helmand Province. This would enable reconstruction work to start.[75]

  • Operation Achilles

The ANA began small independent operations which were expanded to large-scale operations in spring 2009.[74] From 2009 to mid-2013, there has been hundreds of NATO-led Afghan operations against militant groups across Afghanistan. Some of which were small while others were major.

In March 2007, the ANA captured a senior Taliban leader known as Mullah Mahmood near Kandahar. Mahmood was suspected of organizing suicide attacks in Kandahar province. More than forty-nine Taliban fighters were killed in one of the independent operations carried out by the Afghan security forces.[71] In a March 2007 rescue operation, the Afghan forces deployed their Mi-8 helicopters and evacuated flood victims in the Ghorban district of Parwan province. Afghan soldiers safely evacuated 383 families to safer places.[72] In the same month, an Afghan-Pakistani border skirmish was reported near the Durand Line border but resulted in no casualties.[73]

Following the crash of Kam Air Flight 904 in 2005, the ISAF made numerous unsuccessful helicopter rescue attempts. ANA soldiers also searched for the plane. The Ministry of Defense ordered the ANA's Central Corps to assemble a team to attempt a rescue of victims presumed to be alive. The crash site was at an altitude of 11,000 feet (3,400 m) on the peak of the Chaperi Mountain, 20 miles (32 km) east of Kabul.[70]

ANA soldiers, from the 4th Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 203rd Corps, fire a D30 howitzer during a live-fire certification. Having successfully certified, the battery will now reposition to Forward Operating Base Orgun-E, Paktika province, to support operations along the Pakistani border.
ANA troops from the 31st and 33rd Kandak, execute a departure for Operation Valley flood in January 2012.
ANA soldiers of the 209th Corps prepare for upcoming joint operations against insurgents in Baghlan province.


Soldiers in the new army initially received $30 a month during training and $50 a month upon graduation, though the basic pay for trained soldiers has since risen to $165. This starting salary increases to $230 a month in an area with moderate security issues and to $240 in those provinces where there is heavy fighting.[67] About 95% of the men and women serving in the military are paid by electronic funds transfer.[68] Special biometrics are used during the registration of each soldier.[69]

Despite the strong Taliban insurgency and the many other problems that Afghanistan faces, the ANA has been steadily expanding over the years. By early 2013, reports stated that there were 200,000 ANA troops. They are being trained by the International Security Assistance Force under NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Increasing number of female soldiers are also joining the ANA. Under the U.S.–Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement, the United States designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally and agreed to fund the ANA until at least 2024. This includes soldiers' salaries, providing trainings and weapons, and all other military costs.

"Determining ANSF strength is fraught with challenges. U.S. and coalition forces rely on the Afghan forces to report their own personnel strength numbers. Moreover, the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) noted that, in the case of the Afghan National Army, there is "no viable method of validating [their] personnel numbers." SIGAR will continue to follow this issue to determine whether U.S. financial support to the ANSF is based on accurately reported personnel numbers."

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in January 2013:[66]

Troop levels
Number of soldiers on duty Year(s)
90,000 1978[51]
100,000 1979[52]
25-35,000 1980-1982[22][52][53]
35–40,000 1983-1985[54][55][56]
1,750 2003[57][58]
13,000 2004[59]
21,200 2005[60]
26,900 2006[61]
50,000 2007[62]
80,000 2008
90,000 2009
134,000 2010[63]
164,000 2011[64]
200,000 2012[1]
194,000 2014[65]
Fourteen ANA women marching into their graduation ceremony at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC)
Construction of ANA Camp Zafar in Herat province (2005)

The Afghan New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) was launched on 6 April 2003 and begin disarmament of former army personnel in October 2003.[48] In March 2004, fighting between two local militias took place in the western Afghan city of Herat. It was reported that Mirwais Sadiq (son of warlord Ismail Khan) was assassinated in unclear circumstances. Thereafter a bigger conflict began that resulted in the death of up to 100 people. The battle was between troops of Ismail Khan and Abdul Zahir Nayebzada, a senior local military commander blamed for the death of Sadiq.[49] Nayebzada commanded the 17th Herat Division of the Defence Ministry's 4th Corps.[50] In response to the fighting, about 1,500 newly trained ANA soldiers were sent to Herat in order to bring the situation under control. The number of the ANA grew to around 20,000 in 2005, most of which were trained by forces of the United States. In the meantime, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had started building new military bases for the fast-growing ANA.

, marking the first major combat operation for Afghan troops. Initial recruiting problems lay in the lack of cooperation from regional warlords and inconsistent international support. The problem of desertion dogged the force in its early days: in the summer of 2003, the desertion rate was estimated to be 10% and in mid-March 2004, estimate suggested that 3,000 soldiers had deserted. Some recruits were under 18 years of age and many could not read or write. Recruits who only spoke the Pashto language experienced difficulty because instruction was usually given through interpreters who spoke Dari. Operation Warrior Sweep) had completed the 10-week training course, and by mid-2003 a total of 4,000 troops had been trained. Approximately 1,000 ANA soldiers were deployed in the US-led battalions for Pashto (Kandaks By January 2003 just over 1,700 soldiers in five [47] The first deployment outside Kabul was made by 3rd Battalion ANA to

The first new Afghan battalion was trained by British army personnel of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), becoming 1st Battalion, Afghan National Guard.[43] Yet while the British troops provided high quality training, they were few in number. After some consideration, it was decided that the United States might be able to provide the training. Thus follow-on battalions were recruited and trained by 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.[44] 3rd SFG built the training facilities and ranges for early use, using a Soviet built facility on the eastern side of Kabul, near the then ISAF headquarters. The first training commenced in May 2002, with a difficult but successful recruitment process of bringing hundreds of new recruits in from all parts of Afghanistan. Training was initially done in Pashto and Dari (Persian dialect) and some Arabic due to the very diverse ethnicities.[45] The first female Afghan parachutist Khatol Mohammadzai, trained during the 1980s, became the first female general in the Afghan National Army in August 2002.[46]

The new Afghan National Army was founded with the issue of a decree by President Hamid Karzai on December 1, 2002.[40] Upon his election Karzai set a goal of an army of at least 70,000 men by 2009.[41] However, many western military experts as well as the Afghan Defense Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, believed that the nation needed at least 200,000 active troops in order to defend it from enemy forces.[42]

The first batch of graduates of the new Afghan National Army (ANA) in 2002

New Afghan National Army

"New divisions and even army corps were created to recognise factional realities or undermine the power base of individual commanders, often without regard to the troop levels normally associated with such units. For example, the ministry in July 2002 recognised a 25th Division in Khost province, formed by the Karzai-appointed governor, Hakim Taniwal, to unseat a local warlord, Padshah Khan Zadran, who was then occupying the governor’s residence. At its inception, however, the division had only 700 men – the size of a battalion."

The International Crisis Group wrote:[39]

Formations in existence by the end of 2002 included the 1st Army Corps (Nangarhar), 2nd Army Corps (Kandahar, dominated by Gul Agha Sherzai), 3rd Army Corps (Paktia, where the US allegedly attempted to impose Atiqullah Ludin as commander), 4th Army Corps (Herat, dominated by Ismail Khan), 6th Army Corps at Kunduz, 7th Army Corps (under Atta Muhammad Nur at Balkh[35]), 8th Army Corps (at Jowzjan, dominated by Dostum's National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan) and the Central Army Corps around Kabul.[36] In addition, there were divisions with strong links to the centre in Kabul. These included the 1st in Kabul, 27th in Qalat, 31st in Kabul, 34th in Bamiyan (4th Corps),[37] 36th in Logar, 41st in Ghor, 42nd in Wardak, 71st in Farah, and 100th in Laghman.[38]

The army (as a state institution, organized, armed, and commanded by the state) does not exist in Afghanistan today. Neither the Taliban-led "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" nor the "Islamic State of Afghanistan" headed by the ousted President Rabbani has the political legitimacy or administrative efficiency of a state. The militia formations they command are composed of odd assortments of armed groups with varying level of loyalties, political commitment, professional skills, and organizational integrity. Many of them feel free to switch sides, shift loyalties, and join or leave the group spontaneously. The country suffers from the absence of a top political layer capable of controlling individual and group violence. .. Although both sides identify their units with military formations of the old regime, there is hardly any organizational or professional continuity from the past. But these units really exist in name only .. [i]n fact only their military bases still exist, accommodating and supporting an assortment of militia groups.

This era was followed by the Taliban regime in 1996, which aimed to control the country by Islamic Sharia law. The Taliban also began training its own army troops and commanders, some of whom were secretly trained by the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence or Pakistani Armed Forces around the Durand Line. After the removal of the Taliban government in late 2001, private armies loyal to warlords gained more and more influence. In mid 2001, Ali Ahmed Jalali wrote:[34]

[33] The [29] On 18 April 1992, the PDPA garrison at Kunduz surrendered to local mujahideen commanders.

In Spring 1992, the Afghan Army consisted of five corps - 1st Corps at Jalalabad, 2nd at Khandahar, 3rd Corps at Gardez,[27] 4th Corps at Herat, and 6th Corps at Kunduz - as well as five smaller operations groups, including one at Charikar, which had been 5th Corps until it was reduced in status. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Corps, and the operations groups at Sarobi and Khost, nearly completely disintegrated in 1992.[28] Formations in and around Kabul joined different mujahideen militias while forces in the north and west remained intact for a longer period. Forces in the north and west were taken over by three major commanders: Ismael Khan, Ahmed Shah Masoud, and Abdul Rashid Dostam.

1992 and after

As compensation for the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, the USSR agreed to deliver sophisticated weapons to the regime, among which were large quantities of Scud surface-to-surface missiles.[24] The first 500 were transferred during the early months of 1989, and soon proved to be a critical strategic asset. During the mujahideen attack against Jalalabad, between March and June 1989, three firing batteries manned by Afghan crews advised by Soviets fired approximately 438 missiles.[25] Soon Scuds were in use in all the heavily contested areas of Afghanistan. After January 1992, the Soviet advisors were withdrawn, reducing the Afghan army's ability to use their ballistic missiles. On April 24, 1992, the mujahideen forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud captured the main Scud stockpile at Afshur. As the communist government collapsed, the few remaining Scuds and their TELs were divided among the rival factions fighting for power. However, the lack of trained personnel prevented a sustained use of such weapons, and, between April 1992 and 1996, only 44 Scuds were fired in Afghanistan.[26]

Tribal militias were also important to the Najibullah regime's security efforts. From 1988 several new army divisions were formed from former Regional Forces/militias' formations: the 53rd Infantry Division, 55th, 80th, 93rd, 94th, 95th, and 96th, plus, possibly, a division in Lashkar Gah.[23]

During the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, the army fought against the mujahideen rebel groups. Deserters or defectors became a severe problem. The Afghan army's casualties were as high as 50–60,000 and another 50,000 deserted the armed forces. The Afghan army's defection rate was about 10,000 per year between 1980 and 1989, the average deserters left the Afghan army after the first five months.[22]

In 1984–1985, all infantry divisions were restructured to a common design. In 1985 Army units were relieved of security guard duties, making more available for combat operations. [21] was moved from the capital. The division, which was commanded by Khalqi Major General Zia-Ud-Din, had its depleted combat resources spread out along the Kabul-Kandahar highway.7th Division In April 1982, the [20] It is not clear whether the three armoured formations were brigades or divisions: different authoritative sources give both designations. One of the first series of defections occurred in the [18] Gradually the army's three armoured divisions and now sixteen infantry divisions dropped in size to between battalion and regiment sized, with no formation stronger than about 5,000 troops.

After the PDPA seizure of power, desertions swept the force, affecting the loyalty and moral values of soldiers, there were purges on patriotic junior and senior officers, and upper class Afghan aristocrats in society. On March 15, 1979, the Herat uprising broke out. The 17th Division (probably part of the 2nd Corps at Kandahar) was detailed by the regime to put down the rebellion, but this proved a mistake, as there were few Khalqis in the division and instead it mutinied and joined the uprising.[17] Forces from Kabul had to be dispatched to suppress the rebellion.

The Afghan Army 1978[16]

On 27 April 1978 the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Amin overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud, who was killed the next day, along with most of his family.[15] The uprising was known as the Saur Revolution. On 1 May, Taraki became President, Prime Minister and General Secretary of the PDPA. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992.

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

Before the 1978 Pakistan along a line from Bagram south to Khandahar."[14]

From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the Afghan Army received training and equipment mostly from the Soviet Union. In February - March 1957, the first group of Soviet military specialists (about 10, including interpreters) was sent to Kabul to train Afghan officers and non-commissioned officers.[12] At the time, there seems to have been significant Turkish influence in the Afghan armed forces, which waned quickly after the Soviet advisors arrived. In the early 1970s, Soviet military assistance was increased. The number of Soviet military specialists increased from 1,500 in 1973 to 5,000 by April 1978.[13] The senior Soviet specialist at this time (from 29.11.1972 till 11.12.1975) was a Major General I.S. Bondarets (И.С. Бондарец), and from 1975 to 1978, the senior Soviet military adviser was Major General L.N. Gorelov.

In 1953, Lieutenant General Mohammed Daoud, cousin of the King who had previously served as Minister of Defence, was transferred from command of the Central Corps in Kabul to become Prime Minister of Afghanistan.[10] Periodic border clashes with Pakistan seem to have taken place between 1950 and 1961.[11]

Further improvements to the army were made by King Amanullah Khan in the early 20th century just before the Third Anglo-Afghan War. King Amanullah fought against the British in 1919, resulting in Afghanistan becoming fully independent after the Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed. It appears from reports of Naib Sular Abdur Rahim's career that a Cavalry Division was in existence in the 1920s, with him being posted to the division in Herat Province in 1913 and Mazar-i-Sharif after 1927.[9] The Afghan Army was expanded during King Zahir Shah's reign, starting in 1933.

Afghan Army soldiers in the 1950s
"When [Abdur Rahman Khan] came to the throne, the army was virtually nonexistent. With the assistance of a liberal financial loan from the British, plus their aid in the form of weapons, ammunition, and other military supplies, he began a 20-year task of creating a respectable regular force by instituting measures that formed the long-term basis of the military system. These included increasing the equalization of military obligation by setting up a system known as the hasht nafari (whereby one man in every eight between the ages of 20 and 40 took his turn at military service); constructing an arsenal in Kabul to reduce dependence on foreign sources for small arms and other ordnance; introducing supervised training courses; organizing troops into divisions, brigades, and regiments, including battalions of artillery; developing pay schedules; and introducing an elementary (and harsh) disciplinary system."

[2] for Afghanistan states:Library of Congress Country Study established a newly equipped Afghan Army with help from the British. The Abdur Rahman Khan In 1880 Amir [8] (1863–78) is widely credited for founding the modern Afghan army, it was only under Abdur Rahman that it became a viable and effective institution.Shir Ali Khan Sedra cites Jalali, who writes that '..although Amir [7]

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