News: Policing Kandahar City
CAMP NATHAN SMITH, Kandahar City, Afghanistan —The 97th Military Police Battalion has been stationed here at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City since September last year.
Their primary objective is mentoring the Afghan national police in Kandahar City. This is no small feat when one considers that this is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with more than 800,000 residents in an area roughly the size of Los Angeles.
Although the task is daunting, the battalion has been working with the assistance of civilian organizations trained in mentoring and foreign policy objectives, and when the 97th leaves in July, they intend to leave Kandahar City a better place than when they arrived.
In March, Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, 97th MP Batt., began mentoring the Provincial Headquarters staff in Kandahar City. This includes mounted and dismounted patrols, recruiting programs and ministry of interior (administrative) training.
First Lt. Tommy Sieker, HHD, 97th MP Batt., a native of Kansas City, Mo. has been with this unit for one year. He currently oversees the administrative mentoring programs at PHQ.
"PHQ has a large staff. Mainly we mentor in logistics, personnel, and finance operations. We do this with the assistance of CIVPOL, as well as DynCorp representatives to help the ANP with their own systems."
"We are trying to get them to stick to the MOI process," said Sieker, "We are showing them what works, and some of the easier ways to do stuff, as well as asset visibility, getting them to where they can account for all their equipment."
Progress is achieved through weekly visits to the PHQ compound located in downtown Kandahar City, where the MOI team works directly with the staff there.
"A lot of guys there are senior personnel, so they have been ANP for 20 or 30 years. So, it is difficult to come right in, having only been in the military for nine years, and mentor a Lieutenant Colonel. There are difficulties there. However, the ANP we have worked with have been pretty receptive to working with Coalition Forces," said Sieker.
While administrative mentoring speaks to a large part of the work HHD does at the PHQ, they have also made strides in other areas of training.
Sgt. Maj. Patrick Quirk, HHD, 97th MP Batt., and ANP Lt. Col. Mohammad Zaher, Commander of Recruiting, PHQ, have developed a police recruiting program with the aim of infusing Kandahar Province with 1,987 well trained ANP by the end of June.
The program has been actively recruiting ANP for the last 3 1/2 weeks, and already boasts 855 recruits for May. But, before they can call themselves ANP, the recruits must first graduate the training program.
One of the many ANP training centers is located at CNS and lasts six-weeks, containing courses taught both in Dhari and Pashtun.
There are 50 students in the current iteration at CNS.
"In my opinion, this is a good program for the security of the city, and with the number of new personnel, I say this is a great program," said Zaher.
One of the challenges the ANP were having included a lack of security around the borders of the city, as well as two of the city districts that had seen an increase in violence.
"These were our exact problems, and they were solved by this program," said Zaher, "We will deploy troops all around the city to protect the entrances to the city. It will be effective to protect the population of the city."
Quirk says it is not necessarily the way MP's would do it back home, but the ANP has their own way of doing things, and through sitting down with Zaher, he's gotten to know the methods that work best in Southern Afghanistan.
One way it works is through constant patrolling, and the ANP have stepped up on that front as well. With their ranks actively swelling, they are visibly moving from a passive to a more active role in the mentoring process.
It is not unusual in Kandahar City these days to see Canadian, U.S., and ANP forces patrolling the same route together.
Lt. Mohammad Akbar has been a member of Afghan National Security Forces for 16 years.
"America has come to support us, and Canada has come to support us to push the Taliban back," said Akbar, "It is better working with America and Canada, and Britain, because they are here for us and they support the Afghans. You should all stay here in Afghanistan for a long time. This is my wish."
Akbar works with Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Chavez, HHD, 97th MP Batt., to coordinate joint patrols from the PHQ.
"It is a different atmosphere now than when I was in Afghanistan in '04 and '06. I've patrolled with ANA [Afghan National Army], ABP [Afghan Border Patrol], and ANP. The ANP was a brand new concept in the latter part of '05/beginning of '06."
"Since then, it has really progressed a lot," said Chavez, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., "In the last months we have seen tremendous progress. It's very hard to wrap your head around."
"The Afghan people have their own way of doing things. With all the wars here, they have to keep fighting back to stay civilized. They want to do it themselves, and they are showing that every day."
"For example, when we take an ANP platoon on patrol now, they actually give us feedback on whether or not they thought it was a good day, or wasn't."
"Now, if you put yourself out front, [on patrol] it's more than likely that there will be ANP in front of you- and ANP behind you. That is a very, very big change from my last two deployments."
As far as the future of the mentoring programs between HHD and PHQ are concerned, the 97th will be re-deploying to Fort Riley, Kan. in two months, but the 504th Military Police Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash. will pick up where the 97th left off. The faces may change, but the concept stays the same: Brothers and sisters in arms working together to secure Kandahar City, Afghanistan.
Date Posted:05.22.2010 04:33
Location:KANDAHAR CITY, AF
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