Photo Information

A soldier with 7th Kandak, 215th Corps, Afghan National Army, slowly squeezes the trigger of a M224 60 mm Lightweight Company Mortar System during a live-fire training exercise that marked the conclusion of a four-week mortarman's course aboard Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan Mar. 5, 2014. The course instilled basic mortar man skills as well as taught explosive ordnance disposal skills to approximately 40 ANA soldiers. The ANA soldiers newly acquired training will give them an advantage on the battlefield as they return to their units throughout Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cody Haas/ Released)

Photo by Cpl. Cody Haas

Afghan National Army soldiers familiarize themselves with mortars, demolition

12 Mar 2014 | Cpl. Cody Haas

A trained mortarman brings a strategic advantage to the battlefield, providing the capability to accurately engage enemy firing positions from a far distance.

When multiple insurgents attack a squad of Afghan National Army soldiers, a trained mortarman can bring the fight to the enemy from beyond 800 meters away.

Many soldiers with the ANA, however, have never handled a mortar system. The Regional Corps Battle School gives Afghan soldiers classes to become professionally trained mortarmen.
During a four-week basic mortarman’s course at RCBS, ANA soldiers with the 7th Kandak, 215th Corps, are trained to accurately engage ground targets with the M37 82 mm mortar at distances from 100 meters to over 5,000 meters. With the conventional method with a bipod, the M224 60 mm Lightweight Company Mortar System can achieve effectiveness from 100 meters up to 1600 meters. Both conventional and handheld methods are used for speed when engaging a target.

The M224 60 mm LCMS training covers the ammunition it uses, targeting and operation while shooting conventionally with a bipod, as well as base plate and handheld procedures.

“I feel very good about the training taking place today,” said 1st Lt. Nasirah Mad, RCBS instructor, 7th Kandak, 215th Corps. “The students are very proficient with the mortar systems, and I am confident in their ability to use the mortars if needed on the battlefield.”

The soldiers are also given basic instruction on minesweeping and explosive ordnance disposal.

Upon graduation from the course, approximately three to five of the top class graduates return to be instructors for future students. The course is entirely Afghan-taught with Marines from the 215th Corps Security Force Assistance Advisor Team with Regional Command (Southwest).

“The training is progressive with each class,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Hoffman, an operations chief with the 215th Corps SFAAT, RC(SW). “Prior to four weeks ago, they had no form of knowledge or know-how with mortar systems. Today they have proven themselves by acquiring their targets, making the correct adjustments and accurately engaging their targets from approximately 1,300 meters away.”

The return of the newly trained mortarmen to their original units throughout Afghanistan now brings an added advantage to the ANA and their growing arsenal against enemy insurgents. Learning new weapon systems such as the 60 mm LCMS and M37 82 mm mortars gives the soldiers one more advantage in defending their country in future operations.

“I am very pleased with the students’ performance,” said Mad. “They have come a long way, and they confirmed that today.”