AUSTRALIAN Army Captain Cooper Dale is playing a leading role in rewriting the book on artillery operations and air space safety with the Afghan Army.
Captain Dale, 28, from Mollymook, is the key Australian Joint Fires Advisor at the Australian-led 205th Corps Coalition Advisory Team at Kandahar, Afghanistan for Operation Slipper.
The artillery officer advises an Afghan Army Colonel who has pioneered the first fully functional and operational Afghan Tactical Air Coordination (ATAC) unit in Afghanistan.
He said the ATACs co-ordinated close combat attack support to the Afghan Army and deconflict airspace to ensure the safety of commercial and military aircraft across Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan I am the fires advisor to the head of the 205th Hero Corps Artillery Chief and I advise him on the training, employment and development of approximately 500 ANA gunners and the artillery capability as a whole,” he said.
“In Australia I am a Joint Fires Observer and co-ordinate artillery, naval gun fire and Close Air Support to support ground manoeuvre.
“I am lucky as all artillery soldiers around the world have an unbridled respect and enthusiasm for gunnery.
“The relationship between myself and my counterpart is excellent because of this shared interest in artillery,” Captain Dale said.
“We are having a good effect on their capability through the provision of training and artillery has been successfully used by the Afghan Army against the insurgency without any ISAF assistance – this is a good result.”
The former Milton Ulladulla Bulldogs rugby league player joined the Army after working at CB Richard Ellis in South Sydney as a sales and leasing negotiator in the metro division.
He said his rare days off in Afghanistan were much different to home where he surfed each weekend and during the summer holidays at Mollymook Beach.
He returns home just before Christmas, and is looking forward to seeing family, taking his wife skiing in Colorado and also to having a beer at the Berry Hotel.
“There are still people in Afghanistan working hard to secure the future of this country and we provide daily support to the ANA 205 Hero Corps that is fighting and winning in southern Afghanistan and holding the strategically important city of Kandahar,” he said.
“Afghanistan it is still a dangerous environment where you have to be on your guard at all times.”
Captain Dale is one of about 400 Australian personnel who are based at Kabul and Kandahar, Afghanistan to support the ISAF train, advise and assist mission.