News: NTM-A advisors add to ANP academy expansion with new class of recruits
Story by Senior Airman Jessica Lockoski
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK , Afghanistan – Coalition advisors with NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan begin a significant day by helping Afghan National Police inprocess an additional class of recruits, marking the official expansion of the ANP academy at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, July 4.
“The academy’s $2 million expansion project allows 250 more students to complete police training here, which helps NTM-A meet a big-picture goal of producing 170,000 police officers nation-wide,” said 1st Lt. James Ingerick, training advisor, MTM-A, and Rochester, N.Y., native.
The ANP academy’s six-week course allows U.S. Army Reserve military police soldiers, Estonian police and the Romanian Gendarmerie (army and police force) to work together, closely supervising two classes of up to 450 students after the Afghan’s initial inprocessing, known as Day Zero.
On Day Zero, the coalition team met new students at the FOB entry point, where they prepositioned stations to search and enroll them into the academy, now doubled in size.
“The process went well,” said Cpl. Michel Edmonston, a Seabring, Fla., native from the 320th Military Police Company, St. Petersburg, Fla. “We searched them for contraband such as weapons, drugs or tobacco products – anything they can hurt themselves or anyone else. We also look for cell phones, memory chips, and chargers because, once they enter the school, they are not allowed to communicate to anyone outside the compound.”
The advisors assign the recruits a student number, take their picture and officially log them into a system where biometrics data is cross-referenced to identify any prior criminal activity.
“This new group of recruits is a lively group,” said Ingerick. “I think the word is getting out this is a good program here and good for this nation. The better they get, the stronger the ANP force will be and the easier it will be for us to step back and out of the country.”
Ingerick, who is a full-time Rochester police officer and Army National Guardsman from the 2nd Battalion, 389th Regiment, 4th Brigade, 98th Division of Institutional Training in New York, said transforming Afghans into policemen is similar to how U.S. police are introduced into their respective residential academies and how MPs are trained in the Army.
“First and foremost, the students are taught the role of the police officer,” he said. “Because of the amount of corruption in Afghanistan, they are taught how to handle it as an authoritative figure.”
Additionally, Afghan police instructors teach students how to use the AK-47 rifle, conduct patrols, vehicle search procedures, as well as classes in literacy. These skills as well as physical fitness training are supervised by the coalition advisors.
“Most of the courses taught at an American police academy, the students learn in a compact version here,” said Ingerick.
The MPs’ skills from their civilian occupations will also allow the team to solve situations the coalition team may face with twice the amount of students they oversee, he added. Although there are double the students, the advisory staff size will remain the same.
The soldiers working with Ingerick are all individual augmentee mobilized reservists from various units in Florida who have backgrounds in law enforcement and corrections.
“Every day at the academy is different,” said Edmonston, who volunteered for his deployment with NMT-A. “I like my mission, I like what I do. The days are not monotonous, and it challenges me because situations we face are not among typical Soldier duties.”
In an advisory role, Edmonston said they oversee the Afghans’ logistics so the ANP can take control of their facilities and run their training schedules.
“We steer them in the right direction to make that happen,” he added.
After graduating, the police will work within Kandahar province. Ingerick said the new class of recruits will also be the last to go through the current ANP academy course.
By September, the expansion will allow for Afghan Border Police to join the ANP in a new eight-week Afghan Unified Police program, further aiding the security in Kandahar province.