The Maple Leaf
Vol. 15, Issue 5
Farewell to Herat
Col Mohammad Yousuf, commandant of Regional Military Training CentreWest, works in his office.
Photo: Photo: MCpl Cless Howse
Commandant praises Canadian trainers
In Herat, the westernmost province of Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army command team and training staff of Regional Military Training Centre (RMTC)–West are now running a full slate of courses independently, and no longer require a full Training Advisory Group from the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As a result, some of the NTM-A training advisors and support staff, including 15 CF personnel, have been reassigned to other ANA facilities.
“The [transition] of RMTC–West to complete Afghan control...,” said Major-General Mike Day, the Canadian currently deployed in Kabul as Deputy Commanding General–Operations at NTM-A Headquarters, “is a measure of success within the NATO training mission as we continue to work towards increasing capacity in the Afghan national security forces.”
All 15 Canadians have been moved to Kabul. The 14 training advisors are now with the Training Advisory Group at the Consolidated Fielding Centre; one soldier, providing support services, has joined the National Command and Support Element. While in Herat, the training advisors worked with the Afghan instructors conducting the Basic Warrior Course, Train to Instruct and weapons-handling programs.
The departure of the NTM-A training advisory team from RMTC-West is just one event in the continuing process of Transition, or Inteqal, as it is called in both Dari and Pashto. Transition is now in its second phase, the expansion of full Afghan control through districts that are home to more than 50 percent of the Afghan population. Herat City itself came under Afghan control during the first phase of Inteqal, and on January 16, the International Security Assistance Force formally handed over 12 of the 15 districts of Herat Province to the Afghan national security forces.
The redeployment of the Canadian team from Herat comes a full year earlier than expected, thanks in part to the members’ skill and professionalism. The US Navy’s Commander Michael D. Russo, who leads the RMTC-West Training Advisory Group, showered praise on them. “Canadians have done a excellent job in the advising role,” he said. “When a problem was identified in training, Canadian advisors would bring it forward with a solution already in place.”
For the Afghan National Army’s Colonel Mohammad Yousuf, the Commandant of RMTC-West, the Canadians’ last day in his lines was bittersweet. Delighted as he is that his command has moved so rapidly through the developmental stages required to achieve autonomy, he was sad to see his Canadian friends leave.
“The transition to being an independent force will be tough, but Canada has provided us with the training we require to move forward,” he said. “Canadians have had a wonderful relationship with their Afghan counterparts, and it is a shame to see them go. They will be greatly missed.”