FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Newer police forces can benefit from training and discipline, but a good example is one of the best ways to learn.
Marines with the Police Mentoring Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, patrol and live with the Afghan Uniformed Police, developing close bonds and providing security throughout the Sangin District together.
“One of the most important ways we teach them is by good example,” said Sgt. Chris Bustamante, a team leader with the PMT, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines.
Leading by example requires more than just the time spent on patrol. The Marines eat, train and operate with the Afghans to help strengthen their bond.
“I enjoy hanging out with them and getting to know them better,” Bustamante said. “We have put in a lot of time and effort so that they will be able to plan and patrol without us.”
As the AUP continue to develop strong patrolling techniques, they also understand the importance of wearing their personal protective equipment as well.
“They have seen that helmets and flak jackets can save lives,” said Cpl. Michael Creighton, a team leader with the PMT, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “They always wear them now.”
Taking to heart the importance to always wear their PPE while patrolling, the AUP also recognized the significance of immediate obedience to orders, by watching and learning from their Marine counterparts.
“They will see Gunny give us an order and we go do it right then,” Creighton said. “Once they saw us do it, they started doing it when their sergeants gave them orders.”
According to Bustamante, a 25-year-old native of El Paso, Texas, although the AUP are learning from the positive examples set by the PMT; formal instruction on weapons handling, patrolling, and mission planning is still an important part of the their development.
Using the training, mentorship and examples set by the PMT, the AUP are now the ones leading the patrols.
“The AUP are in the front and back of our patrols,” said Creighton, a 25-year-old native of Los Banos, Calif. “We want the Afghans to be the first and last thing the villagers see when we patrol through the area.”
It’s important that the Afghan people know their police are here to protect them, Creighton continued.
Their capacity to protect the local populace is evident by the self-confidence the AUP displayed during a recent operation.
“They want their country safe and we have started seeing their initiative,” Creighton said. “They searched vehicles and locals during our last operation and even built their own concrete bunker.”
At the end of each patrol, the Marines of the PMT witness the Afghan police putting their best foot forward, as they continue to develop into a professional organization, doing exactly what it takes to maintain the safety and security for their people.
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This work, 3/5 PMT works hand-in-hand with AUP, by LCpl Ned Johnson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.