JALALABAD, Afghanistan – The military police platoon of Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Bronco, helped improve security at the Jalalabad Customs Depot June 11 in a joint effort with Afghan national security forces to improve tax revenue for Afghanistan.
Located on the eastern edge of the city and marking the halfway point between Torkham Gate main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Kabul, the Jalalabad Customs House is one of the largest sources of revenue in Afghanistan generating a reported $230 million a year in taxes on transported goods.
The Afghan customs police led by Capt. Azizulla used the expertise of the TF Bronco military police platoon to improve security at the customs depot. Additionally, they developed measures for improving the training, equipment and manning of the customs police.
“The Afghan customs police showed an incredible amount of motivation and drive to learn new techniques that can aid them in their mission,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Javier Gutierrez, a squad leader with the HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT, 25th Inf. Div, TF Bronco, and a native of San Antonio. “These techniques will help protect the customs house and the potential money that goes through it on a daily basis.”
The ACP team currently at the depot took over in April. Previously they worked directly with the director of customs at the customs house in Herat.
The assistant commander of the ACP, Sgt. Shafi Ahmad, said the customs police team relocated with the director of customs and his staff due to the established trust between the two.
“The biggest difference in security between Herat and Jalalabad [Custom Depots] is the equipment,” said Ahmad. “Here, we also have a great team of advisers to work alongside.”
In addition to the security training, Headquarters and Headquarters Company delivered metal detecting wands and search mirrors and taught the ACP techniques for using the equipment.
“The customs police have said that for a long time the customs house has been left to fend for itself and so they appreciate our interest and desire to assist and mentor them on force protection procedures,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Caleb Meeker, team leader with the HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT, 25th Inf. Div, TF Bronco, and a native of Apache Junction, Ariz. “That will not only keep [the customs police] safe, but all Afghans that enter the facility as well.”
Over a dozen of the ACP conducted hands-on training with the MPs integrating the metal detecting wands and search mirrors to learn new personnel and vehicle search techniques. The ACP was eager to understand and implement the equipment.
“The customs police were really excited to learn what my non-commissioned officers had to teach them today,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Zachary Franklin, platoon leader with the HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT, 25th Inf. Div, TF Bronco, and a native of St. Louis. “I have no doubt that with more training and more mentorship, the bad guys in the area will have to think twice before they try to disrupt the commerce that runs through this facility.”
The partnership between the MPs and the ACP will continue to move forward with each lesson shared during the assessment phase of the partnership, said Franklin.
“Today’s meeting goes beyond delivering equipment or training police,” said Franklin. “It shows how serious our commitment is to working with our Afghan partners not only on a national level, but also down to the local level in providing the necessary tools to create a better future for the people of Afghanistan.”