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Tactical Operations Center shows ISAF-Afghan partnership

FORWARD OPERATING BASE CLARK, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Army, along with Afghan contractors and U.S. Army mentors, are building a tactical operating center here, and although it isn’t finished yet, it’s already making a difference in two provinces in Eastern Afghanistan.

"This TOC gives us communications with all the units in the battlefield and improves our operations," said Afghan Brig. Gen. Zahir, executive officer of the ANA 1st Brigade. "The operations happen more quickly and efficiently now."

The facility began its life as an empty metal husk, but when the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, arrived a few weeks ago, they realized the ANA needed an operations center from which to work.

Today, Afghan contractors, along with U.S. service members, work day and night building walls and doorways and installing various communications equipment and computer systems. All this construction is happening just a few feet from ANA soldiers already coordinating with their units.

The partnership extends farther than wielding hammers, though.

"This is about helping them build this thing and putting it all together," said Lt. Col. Rob Campbell, 1-40th commander. "Their radio operators next to my radio operators, their battle captain next to my battle captain.

"Fully partnered, man-to-man coverage is what I call it," he continued. "It’s more than just training them for an hour and saying, ‘Hey, see you next week’ - that’s not partnering. Partnership comes from a full-time, sit-right-next-to-you, battle buddy, fighting this together.

"They may not be shooting rounds in here, but they’re sitting there together, talking on the radio to the guys out there who are," Campbell said.

The TOC also allows the ANA to have eyes on the entire battlefield, so their generals have better command and control over the two provinces under their control.

"(The TOC) allows them to visualize the battlefield," Campbell said. "This (project) will have huge dividends," said Campbell. "Come back here in three months and you will have an ANA brigade well on its way to functioning very efficiently."

"When we go into the battlefield, we know where the Taliban are and can prepare and coordinate for the attack," Zahir said. "This is the result of the ANA and international forces partnering together."

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