Afghan Tactical Air Coordinators (ATACs) have carried out their first night strikes against insurgents, following training by coalition forces including Australia.
The strikes, carried out in December, inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents as well as destroying munitions stores.
Group Captain Philip Arms, commander of the Australians conducting training, said the strikes are a significant achievement.
“ATACs trained and mentored by Australians are pushing out with the Afghan National Army into the fight,” GPCAPT Arms said.
“They have had a very real impact.”
ATACs (the Afghan version of Australia's Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) direct combat aircraft engaged in close air support.
Australian Army Captain James Woods hailed the ATACs as "smart, capable, willing to learn and willing to get out and do the job for real".
“It is the key to Afghanistan being offensively capable of combating the insurgent threat,” CAPT Woods said.
“They are proactive and they understand the benefits of the capability; naturally they are very keen to see it implemented".
CAPT Woods is part of the contingent that trains the ATACs, with the overall goal being to teach the Afghan counterparts to a level where they can deliver independent training to ATACs.
“They are doing a lot of it themselves now. They deliver a lot of the classroom qualification and continuation training. We have our input and try to shape how and what they deliver, but it’s important that the process is Afghan-led,” he said.