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Auxiliary Police Train in Afghanistan

By Petty Officer First Class Scott Cohen, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

ANDAR, Afghanistan, Dec. 8, 2006 – A new program designed to bolster the Afghan National Police is taking shape, as training sites all across Afghanistan are standing up to receive recruits for the Afghan National Auxiliary Police force.

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Afghan National Auxiliary Police recruits fire their AK-47 assault rifles at a training site in Afghanistan’s Andar district. Photo by Petty Officer First Class Scott Cohen, USN

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The ANAP was designed to secure static checkpoints and to provide community policing. This would allow the ANP to run patrols, go on raids and track down Taliban and criminals throughout the country.

It’s an Afghan government initiative, with the Ministry of Interior having overall oversight. Civilians, mostly former police officers, and military personnel from the international coalition are conducting the training.

Standing up the ANAP was necessary as a temporary initiative, officials said, until sufficient numbers of ANP are trained and equipped to meet all the threats in Afghanistan.

New ANAP officers are paid 3,500 afghani a month – about $70. They take an oath of loyalty to the Afghan government and are committed to provide security and safety for all Afghans in their area of assignment.

Cpl. David Webb and other military trainers focus on basic military skills such as rifle marksmanship, individual movement tactics, first aid and squad tactics.

“We are teaching the ANAP these skills so they can take charge of the security situation here,” said Webb. “The individual movement training and squad tactics will allow them to survive and maneuver on a battlefield while under fire. We are teaching them the importance of teamwork, relying on the man next to him so everyone comes home.”

The 10-day course made for long days, and the recruits had to deal with Afghanistan’s harsh climate. The cold and rainy weather made for grumbles among the recruits, and with all the training being conducted outside, numb fingers and muddy clothes were also common.

Even classroom instruction was outside, with a tent canopy for protection against the elements. Most of the classroom portion was taught by Chris Keeney and Adam Lewis, civilian mentors and former policemen.

“The classroom training focused on ethics, morality and a policeman’s primary job to protect and serve,” Keeney said. “It was a challenge to get the recruits to understand they are here to protect their community, not to steal or harass the people. In the past, police were feared by the public at large, but it surprised me how fast the recruits picked up the concepts of what a policeman is supposed to do -- what is right and what is wrong.”

“We set out from day one and continued to drill the concepts of honor and morality,” Lewis added. “We posed different scenarios and the recruits would have to work them out and find the right solution.”

Lewis and Keeney also instructed the trainees in the police skills they would need on the job. “Personnel search, crime scene investigation and suspect control were some of the skills we showed them,” Lewis said. “Once they detain a suspect, they will be able to safely bring them into custody. We demonstrated (that) even a small man can make a man of larger stature do what he wants, with only using one finger.”

Because of the dangerous environment these auxiliary police find themselves in, the military and police training tie together.

“They have to be able to function as policemen and soldiers,” said Webb. “The key is for them to be able to switch back and forth between the roles when the situation dictates. Whichever role they find themselves operating in, I hope they remember the most important thing is to be honorable in all they do.”

One of the police recruits stood above his peers. Mahmood was singled out on the first day of class and was appointed as the class commander.

“I want to defend my country from the Taliban; I want to see a bright future for Afghanistan,” he said. “There is a long road ahead of us, but it starts here with us training to defend our towns and villages. It is not enough to know how to use a rifle. We have to understand right and wrong; we have to gain the trust of the people.”

One objective of the training was to get the community to have a vested interest in its own security. The district sub-governor held a meeting of the town elders, or a shura, before the start of training.

“We asked the elders to send their sons to work and train as ANAP,” said Keeney. “Even though there were no additional recruits gained from the shura, we asked the village elders to see the training first-hand.”

Most of the training was conducted in and around the Andar district center. Each day, villagers came to see what type of training the men were receiving.

“We had to keep the tempo high,” Webb said. “Not only were we trying to teach these recruits a huge amount of material in a very short time, we had to show the people of Andar the police were being given effective tools to protect them. There were a few townspeople who came up to us and thanked us for helping them make their homes more secure.”

The 10 days these men spent learning policing skills is only the beginning of their training, Lewis said.

“In the short time we had with them, we imparted the basics. Their training will continue every day on the job as they are exposed to new situations.”

The ANAP will receive additional training each quarter, and by the end of their first year on the job will have the same training as the Afghan National Police.

“This is only the first step in their education and the beginning of the future security of Afghanistan,” Keeney said. “There is much more to be done, and it will be these men bringing about a secure and viable nation.”

Navy Petty Officer First Class Scott Cohen is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Army Sgt. Nick Brodaczynsky provides instruction on the firing line during marksmanship training for Afghan National Auxiliary Police recruits. Photo by Petty Officer First Class Scott Cohen, USN  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA 10th Mountain Division soldier provides security for an Afghan National Auxiliary Police training site in Afghanistan’s Andar district. Photo by Petty Officer First Class Scott Cohen, USN  
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