CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Now that a newly-formed kandak completed their basic training, they’re ready to relocate to their area of operation.
The 4th Kandak, Afghan National Army is a combat support battalion, which brings an engineer company, a reconnaissance company and an artillery company to the fight in Afghanistan.
The Embedded Partnering Teams from Combat Logistics Battalion 7 and 2nd Maintenance Battalion (-) (Reinforced), both with 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), and the Embedded Training Team from Regimental Combat Team 1, Task Force Leatherneck, escorted the 4th Kandak to their new home in the Marjah district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 24, 2011.
“It is crucial to partner with the ANA so we can advise and mentor them,” said Gunnery Sgt. Wade A. Sparks, the senior mentor and acting first sergeant for the CLB-7 EPT, 2nd MLG (Fwd.). “We work shona ba shona, which means shoulder to shoulder. We provide some more security for them and show them around the [area of operations].”
During the convoy, Marines led the way and were strategically placed in between the ANA vehicles to ensure the Marines were there for the ANA whenever needed.
“The ANA do not have mine roller capabilities or the ability to call in [medical evacuation] via air,” said 1st. Lt. Christopher M. Latham, the CLB-7 EPT’s convoy commander and assistant officer in charge. “We were there to support the ANA with coalition assets that are not organic to the ANA. In a kinetic environment, the ANA highly rely on the training and war-fighting skills of the Marines.”
Despite the weather and enemy threat, the escort was successful. The 4th Kandak is now at their new home in the Marjah district.
“The 4th Kandak will bring more stability to the region,” said Sparks, a Richfield Springs, N.Y., native. “It will add a sense of security for the people.”
The 4th Kandak is a new asset to the ANA, and in the Marjah district they will continue to train with Marines and help provide a safer community for the locals.
“This new kandak is the next step in turning over the [area of operations] to the ANA,” said Latham, a Spartanburg, S.C., native. “The engineer assets are going to be crucial in counter-[improvised explosive device] operations, and the [reconnaissance] platoon is going to have a key role in anti-terrorism.”
The 4th Kandak is an example of how the ANA is developing into a larger and stronger military, and with the guidance from U.S. service members they will eventually be able to protect the people of Afghanistan, on their own.
“They are getting more confident day by day,” concluded Sparks. “Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job so they can be self-sufficient.”