NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Police in Nangarhar province, with advice from their International Security Assistance Force counterparts, are already preparing to ensure its residents will be able to vote safely in Afghanistan’s national election this spring.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Pakela, Task Force Patriot’s senior police adviser, made one of his weekly visits to talk to his counterpart at the provincial chief of police's office, Jan. 2, 2014.
Nangarhar’s important strategic location along the road to Kabul and its traditionally restive nature make security a top priority. A safe population that is confident they will be able to vote without fear of violence is vital to the credibility of the Afghan overall election.
"Here in Nangarhar the provincial headquarters has an expanded role, they are a type A PHQ, meaning they are an overarching regional police headquarters for North of Kabul," said Pakela. "So the other police headquarters [in North of Kabul] feed into Nangarhar’s headquarters, who then feeds that information up to the Ministry of Interior."
As Nangarhar province and Afghanistan as a whole draw closer to elections, these advising visits between Pekala, his team and their Afghan Uniform Police counterparts, specifically with the regional chief of police, are becoming more important. Afghanistan’s police will lead the effort in securing voting locations and voters.
“Our advising efforts lately have really been focused on getting the RCOP and the rest of his staff focused on securing the elections and focusing them on specific operations that ensure the population’s security for the elections,” said Pekala.
The RCOP has already began planning for the upcoming election.
“We’ve categorized the areas,” said Afghan Col. Amir Khan Liwal, administrative officer, Nangarhar Regional Headquarters. “There are some areas that will have no voting; then the other areas are broken down into high, medium and low threat areas [throughout the province].”
This categorizing will determine the strength of force needed for each polling site. In the mean time, the police are conducting operations to lower the threat prior to elections.
The preparation done for the elections is the sum of multiple of ANSF elements working together.
“The Afghan Local Police personnel are playing a big role and we have good coordination with them and we hope they’ll help out during election to bring peace and stability to the area,” said Liwal.
Many local leaders want Afghans to take part in the elections without fear. Liwal calls on them to support the process and their local police leading up to and during the 2014 elections.
“Please participate and vote during the elections… and help support the security forces” said Liwal.