News: Marines train, mentor Afghan police in south Helmand
Story by Cpl. Daniel Flynn
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - How many Marines does it take to turn men who know little about law enforcement into a well-disciplined unit with the ability and knowledge to deal with anything that might come their way?
In Garmsir District, the answer would be 20 field-military policemen with Military Police Company, 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment.
These Marines who make up this Police Mentoring Team have been working side by side with the Afghan national police since April this year.
The PMT operates within Regimental Combat Team 3's area of responsibility and in conjunction with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. As this ANP force continues to improve, it will have a direct impact on the partnered security efforts between 2/8 and the Afghan national security forces.
"It has been a fun and rewarding experience," said Cpl. Mark L. Swindall, a squad leader with the PMT at the police headquarters here. "It has been pretty amazing watching these men go from knowing almost nothing about being policemen to being able to conduct patrols, cordon and knocks and working as a disciplined unit."
The Marines started out by putting the Afghan policemen through a two-month training course designed to teach them basic law enforcement knowledge. After the completion of their training, the Marines continue to work with and mentor them out in the community.
We conduct partnered patrols with the ANP and teach them valuable skills through real-life situations, according to Lance Cpl. Adam Blackman, an MP and Concord, Maine, native. "You have to have patience in working with them, but they have actually gotten to the point where they are leading the patrols, and we are just there for guidance."
He went on to say that it is rewarding to see the improvement the ANP have made since they started working together.
"There have been certain obstacles we have faced since working with the ANP, such as the language barrier and the limited education of the men," said 1st Lt. Justin Grieco, officer in charge of the PMT. "But even with the challenges faced, the reward of seeing what these men have accomplished in such a short time has made the work worth it."
According to Swindall, the Marines visit each ANP checkpoint and give classes over everything from patrolling tactics to first aid. The Oxford, Ala., native added that after the classes, the Marines visit with the ANP at the checkpoints to make sure everything is going smoothly.
According to Grieco, everything the Marines do with the ANP, even a simple game of darts, helps them bond and build respect for one another.
This group is just one of several PMTs deployed in Afghanistan to help train and mentor the ANP to become a police force capable of providing security for Afghan people without assistance from international forces.