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    Afghan national border police transforming to modern force

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Afghan border police graduated almost 200 troops Nov. 22 from the training academy in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. The ABP's 3rd Zone, which covers Afghanistan's southern border in Nimroz, Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul provinces, sent Soldiers to both ABP schools in Afghanistan and now has more than 800 out of about 3,500 troops trained, or roughly 24 percent of the force.

    For the past seven months, ABP Soldiers have undergone a program called focused border development, which is essentially basic training. Although some of border police who graduated from the course had been through the Afghan national police academy, for most it was their first formal training, whether they had been in the force for two months or eight years.

    "Before, they basically told them to raise their right hand and gave them a gun and a uniform," said Lt. Col. Paul Cravey, commander of the Security Force Assistance Team assigned to advise the 3rd Zone.

    The eight-week course is run by a private security company and arms the border police with basic skills. Some of the tasks covered in the course are handling and firing small arms, counter-narcotics operations and vehicle searches. The Soldiers also receive an issue of equipment, including body armor, when they graduate.

    "I had some training before, but this was different," said Hadayah Kalah, a graduate of the course. "Thirteen other guys from my company came here with me. Most of us are trained now."

    In the past, the border police had been a lower priority than the Afghan national army for receiving training and equipment from NATO's International Security Assistance Force. While the ANA are now equipped with American-style weapons and up-armored vehicles, the ABP are still using older model Kalashnikov rifles and only have three up-armored trucks for the entire 3rd Zone. That's changing, Cravey said.

    "The ANA has been the priority," Cravey said. "ISAF didn't have the resources to cover both. Now that the army is more developed, we're shifting focus to the police."

    Eventually, Afghan and coalition forces hope to have Afghan instructors at the course, but first they must develop a much larger and more professional corps of non-commissioned officers in the ABP, Cravey said. If the ABP continues to graduate troops from the FBD at the current rate and starts sending troops to an NCO academy, that could happen as early as next summer, Cravey said.

    Mohammed Kasim, a border policeman from Spin Boldak who joined the ABP after serving three years in the Afghan national police, felt confident he would get the chance to return to the course as a trainer, he said.

    "Someday I'll be an instructor here," Kasim said.

    Although the ABP's mission is to guard the border from smuggling and illegal traffic, their duties often bring them into combat with the Taliban. Even without the same training and firepower, they still take the fight to the enemy, Cravey said.

    "These guys live in the toughest terrain, with the least resources. They're tough fighters," Cravey said. "They've got the right people. They need the right leaders and the right resources."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.22.2009
    Date Posted: 12.07.2009 21:11
    Story ID: 42426
    Location: KANDAHAR, AF 

    Web Views: 533
    Downloads: 492

    PUBLIC DOMAIN