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Afghan Police Prepare for Upcoming Elections

By Pfc. Chris Stump, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Aug. 27, 2004 – With Afghanistan's Oct. 9 presidential election quickly approaching, the nation's police are gearing up to handle this busy time. They not only are preparing to ensure the election goes smoothly, but also are learning how to handle any crisis that may arise.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Jerald Stephens, 58th Military Police Company, congratulates a Jalalabad policeman after his graduation from a refresher course to brush up on skills they'll need as the country's presidential election approaches. Photo by Pfc. Chris Stump, USA
  

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

The Jalalabad police department's quick reaction force is sending its policemen through a refresher course on police tactics, first aid and explosives, which is taught by U.S. Army military police, medics and an explosive ordnance disposal team at the Jalalabad provincial reconstruction team site.

The first class of 20 Afghan National Police graduated from the Police Tactical Advisory Team's four-day refresher course in July. During the course, the policemen brushed up on vital skills they may need in the coming months, said Staff Sgt. Albert Matel, 58th Military Police Company PTAT team leader.

The PTAT, in conjunction with EOD and the PRT's medics, used their skills to teach the police officers additional skills and help them become more proficient by administering practical exercises, he said.

This group of Afghan policemen was just the first of four that will take the PTAT refresher course, said Matel. The quick reaction force will be "the first ones on the scene to see what is happening, or has happened. It's important they know their stuff," said Spc. Jerald Stephens, a PTAT team member.

The PTAT, medics from the PRT and an EOD team went over many of the basic skills the policemen may need to use during a busy time like elections, he said. Among the skills were protecting a crime scene, reacting to a bomb threat, searching vehicles and personnel and setting up a traffic control point.

"There's a good chance they'll have to use many of these skills we went over when the elections happen. They've already learned all these procedures, we are just going over them again to ensure they know it well," said Stephens.

They're all tactics the police must be sharp on, said Col. Mohammed Kaun, Jalalabad police department training officer and course attendee. "In this training we had practical exercises that will help us very much if something happens," he said.

These exercises ranged from hands-on vehicle and personnel searches to operating traffic control points. The types of exercises the policemen practiced in the class were those they will almost certainly see while on duty, said Stephens.

During the elections, villages throughout Afghanistan will be busier than normal, and there will be an increased threat level from those wanting to disrupt the elections, said Matel. This increased threat level places even more pressure on the policemen, and adds to the necessity of the course, he added.

These police weren't only made more aware of what to look for in stopping acts of terrorism, though. The class also refreshed important life-saving skills through a class resembling the U.S. Army's Combat Lifesaver Course, said Spc. Lance Morrow, Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, a medic and instructor at the course.

"We're reinforcing their training on the basics like field dressings, burns and (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) things they could definitely see while they are out patrolling," said Morrow. "It's stuff all policemen should know especially first responders to the scene of an accident."

Some situations, though, may require more than first aid. They may involve getting rid of a threat before first aid even becomes necessary, such as the threat posed by an improvised explosive device. This is where the EOD team members brought their background to the table.

"Our main goal in the EOD instruction was to make them aware of the different devices that can be used," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark D. Simeroth, 754th Ordnance Company. The class learned many of the tactics terrorists could implement in an IED attack.

"With the upcoming elections they have to be prepared for anything," said Simeroth. "They already have most of the skills," said Matel. "We just wanted to add what we could and make them as proficient as possible."

(Army Pfc. Chris Stump is assigned to the17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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