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    ALP guardians fight for home

    KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the distance, white puffs of smoke rise in the morning sky over Ganjigal, a quiet valley tucked away in the vast mountains of Sarkani district. The southern mountain peaks are a seemingly perfect vantage point for insurgent fighters to attack.

    “They know we’re coming,” said an interpreter, who uses the pseudo name David as a safety precaution. “You see, look there in the distance.”

    Just the night before, insurgents launched a barrage of rockets and mortars from those very peaks into the valley, David said.

    Still these attacks do not deter most of the villagers and, in particular, Afghan Local Police guardian Sam-i-Ullah. For him and the few that do remain, Sarkani is home.

    “I have been in the ALP for about two years now,” said Sam-i-Ullah. “I used to work out there in the big cities doing labor work consisting of different odds and ends.”

    But becoming an ALP gave him the chance to do more than simply earn a living, he said.

    “One day I heard about the ALP program, and I jumped at the chance to not only be closer to home but to serve my country,” explained Sam-i-Ullah.

    Lush greenery surrounds the narrow streets of Sarkani district. Vendors waving bags in the air filled to the brim with almonds, raisins, vegetables and fresh fruits. There are young boys scurrying to school, dressed in satin blue and milky white uniforms.

    Further down the way, roads begin to turn into brittle ground. Massive ditches litter the tattered roads weathered from improvised explosive devices and years of battle between Taliban and Russian soldiers and, more recently, American and Afghan troops.

    Just off the road, desolate homes barely stand as result of rockets and mortars, just like those from the night before. Sometimes the nights are endless with such attacks by insurgent groups.

    Ganjigal valley is a known insurgent stronghold heavy with gun and improvised explosive device facilitation, said Iqbal Baland, Sarkani ALP commander. However, checkpoints throughout the area have effectively disrupted insurgent movement in and out of the valley, he added.

    This is due to the layered security provided by joint operations and cooperation from all Afghan National Security Forces. In this area, those pillars include the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps and ALP who work hand in hand in order to provide security to the local residents.

    “It’s important to be able to work seamlessly with our counterparts and train them so that they are familiar with this area,” said Monsif Khan, commander of Afghan Special Forces working in the area.

    “If we need information from the locals, we rely on the ALP,” added Khan. “We don’t want to put the peoples’ lives at risk for talking to us. So having ALP as our partners has been great. Eventually, our goal is to have ALP take the lead in this district, and we will continue training others elsewhere.”

    A round up of operations within the last month led to at least 65 suspected insurgents captured and detained. The operations also resulted in weapons caches consisting of 18 kilograms of explosives, AK-47 assault rifles, 21 hand grenades and nearly 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

    The increase in security has also given way to new ALP programs, slowly blossoming throughout the eastern parts of Afghanistan. In particular, Kunar province has graduated at least two classes of within the last five months.

    For those guardians who do choose to remain and serve, they are irreversibly taking the lead for Afghanistan’s security and future, Sam-i-Ullah said.

    “I may be just one man, but I am very committed to my job and what we do,” said Sam-i-Ullah. “We do our best; so yes, I feel like what we do is making a difference.”



    Date Taken: 09.21.2013
    Date Posted: 09.21.2013 09:56
    Story ID: 114053
    Location: AF

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    ALP guardians fight for home