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Afghan Colonel Works to Take Control of Borders

American Forces Press Service

HERAT PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 12, 2005 – Changes are taking place on the borders of Afghanistan, and one man is leading the way.

Afghan Col. Safe Aube, commander of the Transitional Afghan Border Security Force, and 229 border-security volunteers from across the country are replacing the existing border police forces in Islam Quala, on Afghanistan's border with Iran in Herat province.

"The mission is to replace the existing border police with my men so that those men can be retrained to enforce the rule of law," said Aube. "Once the men are trained, they will return, and we will then move on to the next border site and do the same thing."

This pilot program is planned for 13 other border locations around the country. The hope is to put an end to corruption and increase revenue through proper taxes instituted at the borders.

"There has been this methodology of living with corruption for so long. Now that they are trying to bring the rule of law, it's like trying to settle the Wild West," said U.S. Army Maj. Anthony W. Oliver, the coalition's liaison officer to the border security force.

American soldiers from Combined Task Force Longhorn, which oversees coalition operations in western Afghanistan, have lent a hand in the training.

"They are there to help coach and mentor the Afghans with some basic skills, like vehicle searches, personnel searches and detaining procedures," Oliver said. "We emphasize on what they already know and build on that."

The government of Afghanistan loses millions of dollars annually through its borders. Officials believe the efforts are paying off: An estimated $10,000 a day is being sent to the government by weeding out corruption and properly taxing goods.

"Justice has come to Islam Quala," Aube said.

Aube goes to border villages and speaks with elders who used to receive bribes for allowing smuggling. "They are so used to the way things were, it's hard to convince them that this will be for the good of the whole country," said Aube.

"The majority of people are for the change, but there is still a potential for violence," he said.

Aube has done an outstanding job at avoiding violence and being able to solve differences through a step-by-step diplomatic process, Oliver said.

(Courtesy of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.)

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