From the event

25 Feb. 2009
PR# 2009-188

NATO weapons modernise Afghan National Army

KABUL, Afghanistan - Coalition Forces are outfitting the Afghan National Army by providing hundreds of weapons and dozens of armoured vehicles through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Force Modernisation Project.

The ANA 203rd Thunder Corps will receive hundreds of weapons including M-16 rifles, M-249 squad automatic weapon, M-203 grenade launchers and M-240B machine gun. They will also receive a large number of armoured vehicles by the time the fielding is complete.

“The program is intended to help modernise the 203rd Thunder Corps force,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel David Viggers, coordinator for 203rd Thunder Corps’ weapons issue. “We are trying to bring them up to a high standard. Then, they’ll be better suited to accomplish the mission here.”

The AK-47 assault rifle is currently the firearm issued to most ANA soldiers, but a few have started utilising the more accurate M-16 rifle. Coalition forces are assisting ANA soldiers by training-the-trainers and helping to develop instructional regiments for the other Afghan soldiers. So far the transition between weapons has been smooth.

“They are receiving the new equipment quite well,” said Colonel Viggers. “Most of the soldiers I have talked with, once they get to know the M-16 rifle, accept it and like its capabilities.”

The Afghan soldiers are learning to drive and manoeuvre the armoured vehicles called Humvees. The most lauded feature of the vehicle is its capability to withstand common Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

“They appreciate the added protection the armoured Humvees bring,” said Viggers. “The drivers are picking the training up quickly.”

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