LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan security forces made one more step toward their independence after assuming responsibility for the checkpoint on the road and bridge of Dabare, Charkh District, Afghanistan.
The Logar Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team handed the newly constructed police checkpoint and adjacent observation point over to the Afghan National Police June 10.
“This police checkpoint is very important for us,” said ANP Col. Ghulam Nabi Charkhi, deputy chief of Logar ANP, during the ceremonial handover of the new building. “It only takes one look at a map to see why this place at the bridge of Dabare is so strategically important. It connects the Charkh and Baraki Barak districts; the road heading south is a gateway into the dangerous district of Kherwar; and the road heading northeast leads to Puli Alam, the centre of the province.”
Charkhi said he hopes the new building and the ANP operating the checkpoint will help restrict the actions of anti-government forces in Charkh. Gunfire is not unusual at the crossroads; Afghan as well as coalition patrols are often attacked.
“If we manage to control the road, it will have great influence on the security of the whole district,” said Charkhi.
Czech Republic Provincial Reconstruction Team civilian lead, Petr Svacina, said the building was just the first step in securing the area.
"We can reach secure environment only when there is someone determined to undergo everyday personal risk. It is the Aghan National Police along with the Afghan National Army who stand in the first line of this effort of bringing security to Afghan people,” said Svacina. “Better, safer checkpoints help this effort, but is not the only solution. Now the policemen here have to realize that the real power of the peace keeper comes from his ability to provide safer lives to people living around."
Charkhi said people living in the neighborhood think highly of the new checkpoint. In fact, representatives of the council of elders attended the ceremonial handover.
“They know that this will contribute to their safety,” said Charkhi. If the roads are safe, merchants will not be afraid to travel; farmers will have easier access to markets; it will help the whole region economically, he added.
“Ours is a round-the-clock duty. We don’t get to go home in the afternoon. I come from Balkh province, and I can go home to my family once every six weeks. I always get ten days off; out of these, I spend four days on the road,” said ANP Aminullah.
He has been serving at the Dabare Bridge for several months. In the past, however, the policemen worked and lived in a metal container surrounded by makeshift fortification. Now he and his fellow policemen have a brick building with a stone wall around and said they feel safer.
“We can heat it here in winter; there is enough space for bunk beds… finally we have decent living and working conditions,” Aminullah said.
Charkhi said the new building and its wall means a big change for the police.
“We’ve had several military bases around Logar’s main road repaired and fortified by the Czech PRT over the past three years,” he said. “The old and provisional ones were attacked more often than the new ones. It seems the insurgents are wary of the new checkpoints; they can see that these buildings are not easy to seize, so they don’t attack them that often.”
Apart from building facilities,the Czech PRT also participates in training policemen. Czech army instructors carry out six-week courses at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar. Several hundred Afghans have already completed the course.
The Czech PRT has been operating in the Logar province in southeast Afghanistan since March 2008. It is made up of 12 civilian-experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic who are responsible for the realization of development projects and supporting the provincial government. More than 290 military members of the PRT provide security and training.
The activities of the PRT range from security, agriculture development, water buildings reconstruction and building infrastructure to supporting education, health care and independent media. To date, the Czech team completed a total of 160 projects in Logar.