News: Kajaki police sergeants sharpen skills with Marine advisors
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZEEBRUGGE, Afghanistan – Second Sergeant Abdul Hari is a nine-year veteran of the Afghan Uniformed Police in Kajaki district. As the assistant training officer for his unit, he visits with U.S. Marine advisors here several times a week for tips and tricks on how to improve his unit and bring security to the locals.
Hari and two other sergeants drove their green police truck to meet with Police Advisory Team 1, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, recently. Sitting next to a wooden table under a mosquito net, they watched as Cpl. Jonathon R. Powell, a military policeman with PAT 1, drew blue X’s on a white board to show a tactical column. After observing the formation, Hari asked questions about tactical scenarios, like dealing with multiple enemies, moving around barriers, and being ambushed from the rear.
Powell, a 23-year-old native of Salineville, Ohio, added arrows and explained to the police officers how to maneuver a squad forward when receiving enemy fire. Hari smiled and expressed how happy he was to learn how to counterattack against insurgent forces.
“We’re glad to advance and fight the enemy,” explained Hari. “My previous advisors taught me how to withdraw.”
“Well then we’re learning something new, aren’t we?” said Powell with a grin.
The Afghan sergeants already know most of the fundamental tasks of police work, including patrolling, handcuffing, and investigating. As an advisor, Powell merely gives suggestions to his Afghan counterparts in the AUP in Kajaki, he said. When new police officers joining the AUP, is the responsibility of the Afghan noncommissioned officers to train them.
“Our job is to train the trainers,” said Powell. “We don’t jump in the place of their NCOs and belittle them.”
The AUP NCOs decide which lessons would be best suited for their unit, and which ones to leave behind. The policemen are natives of Kajaki, so they understand the area and culture better than U.S. forces, said Chief Warrant Officer Jason G. Smith, the PAT 1 officer-in-charge with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. They take extra care not to offend the people they work with because as natives of Kajaki, the policemen know many of the residents personally.
“The Afghan way is much more passive,” explained Smith, a 33-year-old native of Missoula, Missouri. “They worry more about not offending others than for their own safety. People put their hands up willingly to be searched. The AUP introduce themselves professionally and are quick and efficient. They act appropriately for Mullahs and elders. The locals respect them for it.”
Hari teaches recruits that proper conduct and behavior maintains the trust of the locals and encourages them to come forward with tips, he said. Kajaki residents have been sharing the locations of improvised explosive devices and insurgents. The police secured the area enough for businesses to return to the nearby Tangyee Bazaar, a previously deserted marketplace that is now home to several fledgling businesses.
The recruits in the unit show Hari the respect he needs to teach them with confidence, said Lt. Col. Hajji Mahfuzallah, the Kajaki district Chief of Police.
“They’re all trying to be in my position,” said Hari. “They respect what they see. They’re doing their best to satisfy the commander and the people.”
While fingering a small band a prayer beads, Hari said he hopes to one day take his policemen north to clear the area of criminals and protect his family, giving his children the chance of a bright future.
“I don’t care where there are bad guys in Afghanistan. I am willing to go and fight them. I work to serve my country. Somebody has got to do this job. I chose to be one of them.”