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New Division Assists in Added Afghan Election Security

By Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2004 – Afghan citizens want added security leading up to the Oct. 9 presidential elections. That's exactly what the Afghan National Police, backed by the U.S.-led coalition and the International Security Assistance Force, intends to provide with the emergence of a new Rapid Action Division.

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Damiam George, of the 58th Military Police Company stationed at Bagram Air Base, demonstrates to Afghan National Police officers the proper way to handcuff a suspect as part of a training exercise in the use of modern police tactics. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The division is the Afghan equivalent of a quick-reaction force. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made mention of the group's potential during a recent visit, saying that it is vital to the security and stability of the region.

"This RAD is going to be a very important organization because they're going to respond to serious election-related contingencies," said Col. Jon Lopey, chief of the Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan and Civil Military Operations Law Enforcement Cell.

"These police officers recognize the importance of their mission and I'm confident that with the training they've received they will be able to provide much-needed security for the upcoming elections and beyond," said New Zealand Maj. Bede Fahey, who was sent to Afghanistan to oversee the RAD training.

Gen. Mahboob Amiri, ANP commander, said the training has been "very effective and very practical" and that he'd like to see the training continue well into the future. "We plan to take the new police force and send them to other areas of the country to provide security for all the people of Afghanistan," Mahboob said.

The RAD was recently thrust into action ahead of the elections when they were deployed by the coalition and its ISAF partners to Herat Province to help quell factional fighting among armed gunmen belonging to local militia commanders and bring the Shindand Airport back under control of the Afghan government.

Abidullah, who only goes by one name, said he joined the ANP because he had always dreamed of becoming a police officer as a child and "he wanted to serve his people and help provide security for the country."

"I'm very happy to be providing security for my country," said Abidullah, 25. "Putting myself in harm's way is part of my job. Whenever I get a mission, I am ready. If I have to lose my life, I'm ready to do my job."

Each member of the division is equipped with an AK-47 assault rifle. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has also provided 100 jeeps with communications, 300 police kits and 106 tents.

The Law Enforcement Cell at CFC-A has also pitched in four 25-man tents and 10 portable generators and will deliver 200 complete sets of riot gear by the end of August.

In addition to providing the trainers, Task Force Thunder supports the RAD by providing vehicles, communications and other logistical support to RAD elements in their area of responsibility.

"I'm very proud that the RAD has been formed in a very short time," Mahboob said. "This division is going to provide hope and promise for the people of Afghanistan and provide security at a high level."

(Army Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel is a member of the 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMembers of the police technical assistance teams from the Parwan and Jalalabad provincial reconstruction teams observe the Afghan National Police as they practice transferring casualties from a stalled vehicle. The 58th Military Police Company from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, is part of Combined Joint Task Force 76's Task Force Thunder assigned to help stand up the Afghan police's Rapid Action Division to serve as a quick reaction force ahead of the Oct. 9 president elections. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel, USA  
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