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    Female ABP officers get a turn at the range



    Story by Sgt. Chloe Barnes 

    ISAF Regional Command South

    KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – With a goal for gender equality within the Afghan National Security Forces, more and more women are getting training needed to be successful within their force. With coaching from civilian and military trainers from Kandahar Airfield, seven female members of the 503rd Zone Afghan Border Police familiarized themselves with the M9 pistol at a Regional Training Center-Kandahar range, Sept. 14, 2014.

    This was the first time the group was able to shoot and familiarize themselves with these weapons. A Regional Command-South training team conducted the range, making it possible for these police officers to learn much needed skills.

    “It’s definitely very rewarding helping these females build their confidence at the range,” said Capt. Karl Cain, a communications and training advisor with1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Inf. Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Division. “They don’t always get the opportunity to train like the males do. There’s a lot of separation due to cultural differences between the genders, so having the opportunity to shoot the M9s is rewarding. It’s fulfilling to think that they may have a chance to better defend themselves thanks to the training.”

    Demetria Franklin of Sugar Land, Texas, is a civilian police officer of 28 years. She is an embedded police mentor with the 503rd’s Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team and works with various members of ANSF in Afghanistan. This is her second time working specifically with the females of ANSF. She conducted the range and helped coach the members of the border police before and during the shoot.

    “We trained in the classroom for about 10 hours prior to today, so I’m very pleased and very proud of them,” Franklin said.

    This was the first time this group had any police training other than their basic academy. One of the ABP participants, who is a mother of nine, said she is grateful to serve and wants to help make peace everywhere in her country.

    “A lot of the women we have on our team have strong desires to be members of the Afghan Border Police,” said Cain, who is from Atlanta. “Women are definitely an asset to the ABP.”

    Franklin said the women who participated in the training went from not knowing what to do with the weapon to being able to break the weapon down, clean it, and load it.

    “They can tell you each and every part of the weapon and how it operates. I had them teach each other and then I sat in the students’ place and had them show me, and they were able to do that,” said Franklin. “We also did what we call ‘first line weapons retention,’ which is teaching them how not to have a weapon taken from you as a female police officer. They did extremely well with that also, and they want to do more.”

    Franklin teaches firearms classes in the U.S, as well. In addition, she has a passion for womens’ empowerment, and explained how bringing that work to Afghanistan is uplifting for her.

    “Empowerment of women in the U.S. is a first and foremost thing for me in policing anyway, so being able to do that in a country with other women who have more challenges than we do is just uplifting for me. They don’t understand how much they do for me. It’s exciting.”

    Franklin has found that some people think women in Afghanistan are not interested in the training, but she says that the opposite is actually true. She finds the women are often more attentive to the training in comparison to other classes she’s taught.

    “They want to have more training and more learning,” she said.
    There is a need for women in the Afghan government, according to 1st Lt. Meghanne Majdecki, who serves as the gender advisor and Female Engagement Team officer in charge with the 1st Cavalry Division, RC-South.

    “In [the Kandahar] area specifically, there’s a push for recruiting female police officers. If there are more, then crimes against women are going to get reported,” she said. “Women are going to feel comfortable going and reporting crimes, and trusting their government, if there are women in their government.”

    Confidence is what Franklin said she sees as one of the greatest challenges among the Afghan women.

    “The first and foremost thing at the end of the day is having them have confidence as females first, empowerment of women first. Then, it’s them understanding what they can do,” Franklin explained.

    She structured the training to be stressful, and participants had to get their heart rates up between shooting iterations to simulate shooting after chasing somebody down.

    “I had them do jumping jacks and go from standing, to kneeling, to prone, and then go right back into firing, reloading and firing again,” Franklin said. “This, and getting used to wearing their vests, raised their heart rate. This helps us to see if their breathing and firing stays steady and they’re staying on target. They did very well,” she said.

    “They were able to see that they can do these things. With that, we don’t have to tackle the idea of ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can do this because someone told me I couldn’t.’”

    Franklin said she hopes to see this group of female ABP get to 30-40 strong, and to be able to work in areas not as secretaries or taking notes, but as police officers, making their own arrests, conducting their own investigations, and empowering others, from little girls all the way to other women.

    “Being a police officer myself, it makes you more proud of what you do when you’re actually doing what you trained to do,” said Franklin. “I take these things back to my agency. It really feels good to say, ‘Look at what they’ve done, and look at how far they’ve come.’”



    Date Taken: 09.14.2014
    Date Posted: 09.18.2014 02:33
    Story ID: 142488
    Hometown: ATLANTA, GA, US
    Hometown: SUGAR LAND, TX, US
    Hometown: TAMPA, FL, US

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