News: Chorah Valley safer with rise of district chief of police
Story by Sgt. Jessi McCormick
CHORAH, AFGHANISTAN - Insurgent activity has been pushed out of Chorah, in Afghanistan’s mountainous Uruzgan province, and those efforts are strongly credited to the efforts of District Chief of Police Lt. Omar Khan and his Afghan Uniform Police officers.
In September of last year, Khan was moved from his position as DCOP of Deh Rawud to be the new DCOP of Chorah. The move was implemented by Provincial Chief of Police Brig. Gen. Matiullah Khan in an attempt to control tribal issues in the areas.
“When I arrived in Chorah, I gathered the village and tribe elders,” Khan said. “I told them you should choose one way. You will stay with us, or you will stay with the enemy and the Taliban. If you choose the Taliban, you should leave now.”
Khan has experience in standing up to Taliban forces. Prior to becoming a police officer, Khan spent six years alongside coalition Special Forces fighting the enemy in the Uruzgan, Helmand, and Daykundi provinces. Now, Khan uses that background to protect the citizens of Chorah.
“His efforts as a chief of police have been directed towards the betterment of the people of Chorah,” said Maj. Tim Redhair, commander of the Security Force Assistance Team that has been mentoring Khan and his officers.
Previously illiterate, Khan educated himself with the assistance of coalition forces, and can now read and write. His academic ability, coupled with his leadership and skills on the battlefield, earned him the DCOP appointment after only five months of uniformed police experience.
“When I was appointed as the DCOP, my staff didn’t know their job,” Khan said. “So I assigned them jobs, and Maj. Redhair and his team helped me ensure they got the proper training.”
Khan sent his top two investigators, Capt. Khodiadad Khan and Sgt. Habibbila, to an evidence-based operations course at the Provincial Headquarters in Tarin Kot in February. Upon their return from the course, both investigators will be able to properly train others at their station.
“Capt. Khodiadad Khan has been organizing an effective investigations team with the intent to have an investigator at each checkpoint in the Chorah district,” said Capt. Lee Hale, an investigations mentor from the Security Force Assistance Team. “This will provide first hand reporting of the incident because the investigator will be there to take the report and gather evidence for the prosecution, therefore allowing stronger cases to be tried in court.”
In addition to building a competent staff, Khan has also implemented more presence patrols in areas that were previously targeted by insurgents.
“There used to be bombs in the bazaar, but now there are not any,” Khan said. “My officers have changed that.”
In recent months, issues with pay have caused the AUP officers to receive their pay slowly. Khan has worked diligently with Provincial Chief of Police Matiullah Khan to improve administrative processes.
“I am thankful to Matiullah Khan that he has helped my police officers receive their salaries,” Khan said.
Although Khan’s primary focus is with the AUP, he is a strong supporter of the other local security forces including the Afghan National Army, Afghan Local Police, and National Defense Services, and works hand in hand with them to make certain the locals are protected.
“Chorah is like our house,” Khan said. “We are the leaders here. We have to coordinate everything between ourselves and take care of our civilians.”
Khan’s actions enforce his words, Redhair said.
“Omar’s ability to bring the other security leaders of Chorah together through his pure charisma has enabled them to focus on mutually supported tasks,” Redhair said. “A result of this has been the regular security shura with other security leaders as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the poorer people of Chorah.”
Khan hosted the most recent security shura at his own compound, and even had Parliament members and tribal leaders attend. His ability to gain consensus among the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Afghan National Security Forces, and tribal leaders is key to the continued success of the district.
“We are not here only for the security of the Chorah Valley, but for the security of Afghanistan,” Khan said. “I hope that one day I get to make other parts of Afghanistan safe. We have to do our job. We can’t give up.”