A Focus on Special Forces


Maj. Gen. Bismellah Waziri leads the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command UNIPATH STAFF

It makes Afghan Maj. Gen. Bismellah Waziri proud to talk about the men he commands.

As the head of the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC), he leads battle-tested warriors who approach their missions with professionalism and courage. They are highly trained and fiercely dedicated to a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

“Enemies are scared when they hear the name commandos,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Waziri met with Unipath while attending the International Special Operations Forces conference and the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida, in May 2016 and shared insights into what it takes to lead this unique command. He said conferences like the one in Tampa provide an important forum for sharing ideas and gaining new perspectives on the war on terror.

“The threats currently in Afghanistan are not limited to Afghanistan,” he said. “These are transnational threats.”

Decades of turmoil have given Afghan leaders a unique perspective, and Maj. Gen. Waziri has used those experiences to hone the training of his country’s elite forces.

“The world knows that we have a critical role in the stability of Afghanistan — critical to the future of the nation,” he told Unipath.

He can point to a number of successful missions over the past year. In May 2016, special forces conducted a nighttime helicopter raid that freed 60 captives from a Taliban prison in the southern province of Helmand. In early October 2015, special forces were part of an offensive that pushed the Taliban from the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. That same month, backed by U.S. airstrikes, special forces destroyed a large al-Qaida training camp in Kandahar province near the Pakistan border.

An integral component of ANASOC’s success is the faith people have in its capabilities. “We have been able to gain the trust of the people of Afghanistan,” Maj. Gen. Waziri said.

The commander was born in Kabul in 1966 and grew up in the Barmal district of Paktia province. In 1981, holding the rank of captain, he attended military school in Afghanistan and graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree from the Infantry Department of the Military University. From 1986 to 1987 he served as a company commander for the Ministry of Defense, and from 1990 to 1992 he served as chief of staff of the Reconnaissance Detachment of the 9th Infantry Division.

He disengaged from the military during the Taliban era, but the post-Taliban Afghan Ministry of Defense appointed him battalion commander in 2004. He underwent the Afghan National Army’s commando training in 2007. That led to his assignment as commander of the 3rd Commando Battalion in Kandahar province.

He served as chief of operations of ANASOC in 2009, and in 2011 he was appointed chief of staff of ANASOC. His appointment to commander came in 2015. He now oversees the development and operations of two brigades and 13 battalions, also known as kandaks in Afghanistan. ANASOC also encompasses the School of Excellence — used to ensure forces are skilled at calling in airstrikes, conducting surveillance of terrorists and their supporters, and other special operations missions.

Although Maj. Gen. Waziri knows the future holds challenges for the security of his country, he is proud of his role in promoting change and protecting the people of Afghanistan.

“I was able to achieve my dreams,” he said.