PATROL BASE JAKER, AFGHANISTAN
PATROL BASE JAKER, Afghanistan -- Choosing a career path can be an agonizing process for some, with the most difficult questions being, “What do I want to do?” and “How do I get there?” Patrolmen with the Afghan Uniformed Police in Nawa know the answer to those questions: the AUP Academy here.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Sadowski, the senior instructor at the AUP Academy, Police Advisory Team, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and his two civilian counterparts conduct police training for AUP members to prepare them for the challenging training ahead.
The regiment is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward). 1st Lt. Patrick McFarland, officer-in-charge of the PAT, said their mission focus is the development of Afghan National Security Forces, particularly the AUP forces in Nawa-I-Barak Zayi district.
All recruits from Nawa must attend the police academy and non-commissioned officers must attend the advanced course at the Helmand province Training Center, located in Lashkar Gah, upon selection. The Nawa police chief hand picks all attendees for this training, but prior to leaving for the HPTC, they must first attend the 10-day preparatory courses at the PB Jaker AUP Academy.
“The idea is to have them recruited by the district chief of police and go through the preparation course here at PB Jaker. Once they are able to get through that course, (the police precinct) schedules them to attend the course at the HPTC and become patrolmen,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Martinez, staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the Police Advisory Team.
The first thing the recruits must do when training begins at the AUP Academy for any course is take a placement test to assess their basic knowledge. Once their comprehension has been assessed, the instructors mold the course to provide an overview of patrolling techniques, land navigation, and communication.
Each course is unique in itself because Sadowski, along with Vincent Jamison, a law enforcement professional from the Chicago Police Department, and Randall Lambert, an embedded police mentor from the Butler County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Department, tailor the course curriculum to cover material the recruits and NCOs do not know or which they feel the students need additional training. This fine-tuned preparatory training helps the students prepare for HPTC courses.
“They are young, for the most part, and inexperienced,” stated Sadowski, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. “The AUP have a hard job because they have to deal with insurgents and local populous problems.”
The challenges they will face on a day-to-day basis as patrolmen include overcoming the negative image many local citizens have of the AUP in Afghanistan and facing battle-hardened insurgents. The training they receive at the AUP Academy is all the more important to help the students gain experience and move toward their goal of being able to operate independently. Sadowski said they often see a great deal of improvement as the students go through the training.
“Gulf Company will go on patrols with the AUP, and I get the names of the AUP patrolmen. The squad leader will debrief me on how they did and what they need to work on,” said Sadowski. “As the class goes on, the big (mistakes) go away, discipline starts to set in, and they start to carry their rifles at the ready. They (display) a military presence while integrating themselves with the populous and begin to gain the trust of the people.”
The academy instructors transform the recruits in each class to better prepare them for further training. However, the advanced course is focused on initiative and leadership development, while building on the skill sets they have already acquired.
“We took the curriculum from the NCO course at Lashkar Gah and built a course here to prepare them for the courses at the HPTC,” said Sadowski. “The NCO course (we teach) incorporates shooting, leadership, advanced police skills, hand-to-hand combat techniques, and how to communicate with civilians (as a patrolman).”
A new addition to the training for the AUP NCOs is a motorcycle safety course, which was developed by Lambert, a law enforcement veteran of 17 years. The course teaches students how to safely employ their vehicle in performance of their duties while ensuring mission accomplishment.
“The (Afghan) base security was getting into about three to four (motorcycle) accidents a week,” said Sadowski. “So we ended up incorporating (the motorcycle safety course) into our curriculum.”
Though the motorcycle safety course is a new portion of the training, the PAT is confident the future will provide positive results, just as the course has shown once the AUP patrolmen return from the HPTC and take to the streets of Nawa. They continue to incorporate their training into their daily routines. As they stand watch, conduct combat patrols, and answer civil disturbance calls within the area, Martinez’s PAT Marines are there with them every step of the way.
Martinez, a Lubbock, Texas native, said his 16 Marines and two sailors are split between three precincts. The NCOs of the team are the advisors for the police precinct commanders, while the junior Marines work on training and advising the patrolmen. At this level the junior Marines can observe what the patrolmen are doing right and wrong and report their observations up through the chain of command. This information is analyzed so it can be passed to the academy instructors and the course can be adjusted, based on the needs of the AUP.
The support Marines are providing has proven successful for AUP here, and the AUP are making great strides toward further Afghan independence and increased security as they look forward to a time when they no longer need Marines as advisors.
“Since we’ve gotten here, we’ve had the (students and patrolmen) stand a lot more watch within the police precincts. We have police advisors working shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” said Martinez. “I’ve noticed a big change in their participation with not just standing watch, but also with their internal patrols. Within our records we show they are doing a lot more patrols alone than when we first got here.”
“The best thing we can do is prepare these guys to execute their job and their mission,” added McFarland, a Prescott Valley, Ariz., native. “That, in turn, is mission success for us. We are training patrolmen to do our job, so the Marines can take the fight to the (insurgents) in other parts of the country.”
McFarland explained the training his Marines provide to the AUP is an integral part of transferring the security role in Helmand province from primarily the Marines to ANSF.
Sadowski said he also sees the benefits the training has had on the AUP members in the way they carry themselves. In all, the Marines have trained more than 80 AUP patrolmen at the basic and advanced courses during the five months of the regiment’s seven-month deployment. Sadowski attributes the police mentorship at the schoolhouse and the Marines of the PAT to their current successes with the local AUP.
“I’ve been in this fight actually since 2002, so I have seen the transition from kicking open doors and shooting anything that is a threat to (current) counterinsurgency operations. It is a different kind of success,” said Sadowski. “Just like any teacher in the U.S., if you teach someone to read that is a great feeling. We do the same thing. Whenever we turn these (patrolmen) over and they come back from a patrol and a squad leader comes to me and states, ‘I don’t know what you are doing with these guys, but it is excellent. They are on top of it.’ It is really just a feeling of success … leaving here feeling that you (accomplished) something.”
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This work, 2/3 Police Advisory Team Hones AUP Skills, by SSgt Earnest J. Barnes, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.