KABUL -- The Afghan National Army (ANA) says it is providing commando training and advanced weaponry for newly recruited soldiers in Herat Province as part of the Ministry of Defence's continued efforts to fight terrorism.
The new programme is training 500 soldiers of the 207th Zafar Corps in Herat.
Commando training for the new recruits started August 15 at the 207th Zafar Corps training centre and will continue for six months, said military officials in the western region.
The commando training will teach soldiers advanced tactics in suppressing the enemy and defending themselves in difficult conditions, said Col. Mohammad Nader Afzali, commander of the 207th Zafar Corps Training Battalion.
Such capabilities will help reduce casualties on the front, he added.
"We intend to provide all of our soldiers with advance commando training from now on," he said. "These soldiers are trained in searching and clearing homes and battlefields, setting up ambushes, firing light and heavy arms, crossing obstacles and other military skills.
"The international community, especially NATO, has provided the ANA with advanced weapons that the commandos will use in operations and in the clearing of areas from terrorists," Afzali added.
The newly recruited soldiers are ready to defend the government and Afghanistan's territorial integrity and national interests, said Col. Fardin Sepah, commander of the 2nd Commando Brigade in the western region.
"The role of commandos is critical in fighting international terrorism and defending Afghanistan," Sepah added.
"With the support of NATO advisers and the international community, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have gained good capabilities and can defend the country."
The advanced training comes amid a recent increase in attacks in the country even as Taliban and Afghan government negotiators meet in Doha, Qatar, to try and find a way to end decades of war.
On September 23, officials said the Taliban killed 28 paramilitary policemen in fighting in Uruzgan Province after they surrendered the previous evening.
The incident occurred in Gezab District, where intense fighting raged for days as the Taliban besieged outmanned and outgunned Afghan police and army outposts.
The Taliban denied they had slaughtered the policemen after they surrendered.
At least 14 Afghan police and soldiers were killed during the same battle overnight on September 20-21.
Youth answer call to service
Amid the attacks, military officials in the western region say that they are seeing an increase in interest among local youth in joining the ANA.
In the last three months, more than 1,000 young men have joined the ANA in the western region, Maj. Gen. Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, commanding general of the 207th Zafar Corps, said on September 20.
These young men voluntarily signed up for service at ANA recruitment centres in Herat and are being trained in different military skills, he said.
"Newly recruited solders receive three to six months of training and are then deployed to Herat, Farah, Badghis, and Ghor provinces as needed to maintain security," he added.
"Recruitment in the ANA continues on a daily basis, and the youth are very interested in serving their country and people in the ranks of the ANA," he added. "The ANA has provided the opportunity for thousands of young Afghans to serve their people and save their country from the threat of terrorists."
Young Afghans are showing growing interest in joining the ANA, confirmed Muhammad Naeem Ghayour, a military analyst in Herat city.
"Youth are a formidable force in Afghanistan, and when they join the ANA ... they can strengthen it," he said.
"While the country is at war, the fact that young men voluntarily are joining the ANA shows their extreme courage and patriotism," he added.
The ANA is a young army, but the training it receives from Afghan trainers and international advisers has made it one of the most modern and capable armies in the region, Ghayour said.
High spirits to defend Afghanistan
Newly recruited soldiers say that they enthusiastically joined the ANA and look forward to maintaining security and defending Afghanistan from terrorists.
"My dream was to join the ANA ... as I want to serve my people and country and earn a living for my family," said Kamran, a soldier in the 207th Zafar Corps.
The Taliban and other terrorist groups must realise that they will achieve nothing through violence and murder, he added.
It will be in the interest of everyone if the militant group chooses the path of peace, while if it chooses to continue fighting, it will perish, he said.
"We work day and night to bring peace and security to Afghans, and we will not allow terrorists to disturb the security of people," Kamran added.
"I joined the ANA because of increasing attacks by anti-government elements and the suffering of civilians because of the war," said Sharifullah, another soldier in the 207th Zafar Corps.
"I want to serve my people and my country. I joined the ANA with great enthusiasm and will fight the enemies of Afghans to the last drop of my blood," he added.
Terrorist groups must know that they cannot hide from security forces and that they no longer can continue trying to destroy Afghanistan, he said.
"The doors of peace are open to them, and if they do not make peace, the ANA will eliminate them with the advanced military training it has received," Sharifullah said.