Winter Campaign 2016 – Afghan special operations forces of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Ministry of Interior (MoI) are undergoing a refit during winter campaign 2016. The typical fighting season in Afghanistan usually runs from April to October each each year. So, in the past, the Coalition would refer to that period as the ‘fighting season’. In the last few years the Taliban have been fighting year-round – with lessened activity during the winter months. So now, Resolute Support headquarters (formerly the International Security Assistance Force or ISAF) has dropped the term ‘fighting season’ and now refers to ‘summer campaign and winter campaign’.
Each year Resolute Support headquarters advisors work with the Afghan MoD and MoI on their campaign planning and execution. This years ‘winter campaign 2016’ has a number of goals and objectives that the MoD and MoI wish to accomplish to get ready for the uptick in fighting once ‘summer campaign 2017’ kicks off in the spring.
Last year saw the Taliban more active than ever and ending summer campaign 2016 holding more territory than at any other time since 2001. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) took a lot of casualties and were badly shaken in many areas of the country (Kunduz, Helmand, Uruzgan, etc.). Most of the ANDSF did not measure up in tackling the Taliban in their geographic regions.
The one exception – of course – were the special operations forces of the MoD and MoI. According to DoD reports and press conferences the Afghan SOF conducted 70% of the offensive operations over the past year. Many times these SOF units were doing the work of Afghan conventional units – such as holding garrisons as defensive forces, guard duty at installations, or occupying checkpoints in excess of 30 days. The SOF units are over-used and miss-used. Resolute Support advisors ‘assisted’ the MoD and MoI in their planning for the current winter campaign – stressing the need to relieve the Afghan SOF units of the daily grind of combat operations and pull them out of the action for a while. This will allow them to take leave, refit, reorganize, and retrain on critical tasks and skills.
Read about one training event that recently took place at the end of December 2016 that is illustrative of SOF units retraining during the winter campaign.
“Members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces participated in air-to-ground integration training at a firing range here Dec. 27. The day-long training exercise was part of the ANDSF winter campaign, which focuses on enabling Afghan forces to regenerate capability and capacity, and is supported by the NATO train, advise, and assist mission. At a press briefing earlier this month, Gen. John Nicholson, NATO Resolute Support mission commander, emphasized that during the winter campaign, the regeneration effort focuses on Afghan special forces.”
Read the rest of the article in “Afghan Air to Afghan Ground: special units conduct integration training”, NATO Afghanistan Resolute Support, January 1, 2017.