Afghan Police, Army Ready to Secure National Elections
By Sgt. Lynnette M. Jefferson, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 17, 2005 When the people of Afghanistan cast their ballots Sept. 18 to elect a lower house of parliament and councils for each of their nation's 34 provinces, their safety and security will be ensured through the coordinated efforts of the Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, as well as coalition forces, Afghan and coalition military officials report.
The Afghan National Army will provide the second line of security for Afghanistan's national assembly elections Sept. 18. The ANA will conduct patrols and provide security throughout Afghanistan 's 34 provinces. Photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Meyer, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"The ANP will provide the first line of security throughout the country for the elections," said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Adelberg of the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan's Directorate of Police Sector Reform. "They are providing security at each of the 6,100-plus polling stations for several days around the elections."
He said the ANP also will provide security at the counting stations for the entire post-elections period and will have a quick-reaction force in every province.
Responsibility for the second line of elections security will be with the ANA, said Lt. Col. Ahmad Mohammad Farid, the current operations leader for the Afghan Army's General Staff and ANA liaison officer to OSC-A. "The ANA is proud and serves selflessly," he said. "They are everywhere to make sure the election is a success."
Col. Mohammad Ishaq Paiman, deputy director of public information at the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the ANA and coalition forces will conduct patrols together and establish checkpoints in needed areas. Paiman said he believes the ANA is prepared for the upcoming elections.
"The ANA has captured many enemies and has found numerous improvised explosive devices," he said. "The enemies were not able to distract the ANA. This ensures us that the ANA is prepared and alert. They will stop all bad actions."
The Afghan Interior Ministry of has been shifting police assets to areas where they are needed to ensure the most effective security possible, Adelberg explained. NATO's International Security Assistance Force and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan have assisted with the ANP movements to several areas throughout the country, particularly from Kabul to the west.
To facilitate provincial security, the Interior Ministry sent senior leaders to assist with security management and information flow, Adelberg said. "Our assessment right now is that the MoI and the ANP are capable of providing basic elections security at the polling sites, in full cooperation with the ANA."
British Army Lt. Col. Guy Deacon, a deputy director in OSC-A's Defense Reform Directorate, added that this is the first time the ANA has deployed to every Afghan province.
"Since July, plans have been prepared by the Defense Ministry and issued to all ANA corps to deploy existing troops from current locations to provide support in securing polling stations and counting stations," he said. "A considerable effort has been made by the ANA to ensure that units can remain in their deployed areas for some time and provide reassurance to the electorate before, during and after election day. The sight of the ANA deploying to provinces and regions where they have never been before has been welcomed by the local population and demonstrates the high regard the people of Afghanistan have for their army."
To ensure security all over Afghanistan , ANA units are present in all 34 provinces, Farid noted. "We worked together with (Combined Forces Command Afghanistan), OSC-A, Combined Joint Task Force 76, as well as ISAF to ensure that security was provided all over the country. The Afghan army's National Military Command Center is fully manned and equipped with 24-hour communications and disseminates information. We have very good joint operations centers with the coalition forces as well."
Farid said the ANA is playing a critical role in the elections. "If the ANP requires assistance, the Afghan army has a quick reaction force that will respond. We are there if they need us," he said. "We also have operational and reserve forces as well. The people trust the ANA. They respect and are happy with them. They are not only providing security, they are helping to change Afghanistan ."
Like the MoI, the MoD also has generals and colonels traveling to the provinces to ensure their troops are conducting proper procedures. Farid said he believes this will ensure election success. "Their votes will bring change," he added.
Though the possibility of violence exists, Farid said, the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army are well-prepared to provide safety and security for the people of Afghanistan during the elections.
"Despite the intimidation from the Taliban and terrorist groups," said Farid, "the people will vote."
(Army Sgt. Lynnette M. Jefferson is assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan public affairs office.)