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    Pennsylvania native influences future of Afghan Border Police

    Pennsylvania native influences future of Afghan Border Police

    Courtesy Photo | Irwin, Penn., native Sgt. Mitchell Lander (third from left) joins the Afghan Border...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Marco Mancha 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It’s no secret American forces are beginning to draw down forces in Afghanistan, but it doesn’t mean their work is done. Marines all over Helmand continue supporting Afghan forces as they take the lead in security responsibility throughout the province simply by executing their jobs. Motor transport operators keep logistic convoys rolling, combat engineers clear key routes up and down the region, and infantrymen assist their Afghan counterparts in eliminating what is left of a dwindling insurgency.

    Irwin, Penn., native Sgt. Mitchell Lander is doing his part as an enlisted adviser to the Afghan Border Police for Border Adviser Team 1.

    While many Americans enjoyed celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving, Lander spent the last two months getting to know the Afghan Border Policemen he’s working with. He has built a good rapport with his ABP team to determine their strengths and weaknesses in order to better serve them as an enlisted adviser.

    The process, according to Lander, has taken time and involved a lot of one-on-one interaction, drinking chai tea and gaining the trust of the policemen.

    “With the border police, and Afghan citizens in general, they like to take the time to sit down and get to know you,” explained Lander, 24. “It took me a while to get to where I can actually start talking a little bit with them about business, but overall they love to serve you chai and give you hospitality. It just took a little more getting to know them personally to actually get down to business.”

    The time it took getting to know his ABP team was time well spent. Lander can now work with 1st Lt. Nabi John, the ABP commander for the team in his area, and actually advise him on anything the policeman needs assistance with.

    The Marine’s job is to teach, mentor and advise the ABP on proper weapon’s handling and safety procedures, conducting dismounted patrols, and proper operational procedures for border checkpoints. Lander’s goal is to get the team of about a dozen ABP members to be completely self-sufficient by the end of his deployment.

    Lander works every day to better the skills and tactics of these Afghan warriors, and he is especially proud of the progress the policemen have made already.

    “These guys are doing (multiple) patrols a day and even set up random vehicle checkpoints to keep up security along the borders of local villages,” explained Lander. “Nabi John and I communicate pretty well, and his guys are always more than willing to learn and patrol.”

    Lander does his best to patrol with the ABP at least once a day. He spends the rest of the day teaching classes or going over tactical skills the policemen have learned from previous advisers.

    The blond haired, blue-eyed Marine is currently on his first deployment to Afghanistan, but is on his third deployment overall. He spent his first two deployments in the sands of Iraq working as convoy and base security.

    Lander said he appreciates all the deployments he’s been on, and they’ve given him an opportunity to experience all types of jobs and situations. Of the three Military Occupational Specialties he has been trained to do, he’s never actually done his job while deployed.

    The enlisted adviser is actually an imagery intelligence analyst trained to take satellite images and make products such as maps. He has also been a supply warehouse clerk and started his Marine Corps career as a low-altitude air defense gunner.

    “It doesn’t bother me that I’ve never actually done my job,” said Lander. “I’m actually very appreciative the Marine Corps gave me these opportunities to take on different roles and help me grow as a leader and a person.”

    Lander is helping shape the future of Afghanistan -- a future in which the ABP and other Afghan National Security Forces will be able to operate confidently without the help of coalition forces.

    “He is a great Marine who takes pride in what he does and is a great role model for the ABP,” mentioned Jacksonville, N.C., resident Gunnery Sgt. Trevor Johnson, the operations chief for BAT-1. “It will be great to see what he will do with his group of policemen, but I’m confident he’ll get them where they need to be to take charge on their own.”

    Editor’s Note: Border Adviser Team 1 is currently attached in support of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 in 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 12.08.2011
    Date Posted: 12.08.2011 02:08
    Story ID: 81055

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