CAMP BLACKHORSE, Afghanistan -- Afghan National Army logistical capabilities continue to expand in Helmand Province with the addition of the 215th Corps Logistics Battalion. Currently there are two combat service support kandaks in Helmand, which provide direct logistical support to Afghan infantry units.
The 215th CLB is the first Afghan unit to provide general logistics support to all operational infantry kandaks and is tasked with keeping supply lines open over the rugged terrain of southwestern Afghanistan.
The establishment, training and fielding of the 215th CLB is a full three years ahead of schedule, a testament to both the vital necessity for capable Afghan forces in Helmand province as well as the overall progress of the ANA as a professional military force.
The unit remained in a constant state of flux throughout its preparation and evaluation as ANA soldiers continued to fill the ranks as they graduated basic training. The battalion’s leadership was formed early and maintained excellent relationships with their coalition mentors and advisors, Marines form the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), through the final phase of training.
“I’ve worked with Marines shoulder-to-shoulder for over a year,” said the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mumtaz Karimi. “My partners and mentors here are always helpful and compassionate. I have great memories and think very highly of the U.S. Marines.”
During their last week of training the CLB had to complete a final graded field exercise, like all ANA units in development, consisting of multiple scenarios applicable to their specialty. In the case of the 215th CLB their scenarios included establishing a command post, deploying combat logistics patrols, reacting to enemy attacks, refueling operations and recovering vehicles while on the road. The evaluators, a team of U.S. and Afghan-army graders not affiliated with the unit, awarded passing grades thus elevating the CLB to a mission capable status.
“This battalion is capable of performing its mission with minimal input from U.S. mentors,” said Capt. Patrick Ross, the embedded training team officer in charge. “In the end they have to be able to do all of this without us, and they’re getting very close to that point.”
Two days after validation, the 215th CLB stood proudly alongside their Marine counterparts during a graduation ceremony held in a Kabul soccer stadium. With Afghan Ministry of Defense dignitaries and VIP guests in attendance, Mumtaz addressed his battalion.
“We have completed our training and must now move on to perform our mission in Helmand province. We are here because of the assistance and mentorship from our U.S. counterparts, but now it is time for us to stand on our own feet. I am very proud of this battalion,” he concluded.