News: Afghan Border Police establish presence, strengthen security in Khan Neshin
Story by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
KHAN NESHIN DISTRICT, Afghanistan – Establishing a strong relationship with the local population is critical to any successful counterinsurgency operation.
Until recently Afghan National Security Forces have been unable to reach the people in the southern areas of Khan Neshin, Helmand province’s southernmost district.
Following Operation Highland Thunder, where Marines and sailors of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and 3rd Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment, cleared previously unoccupied areas of Khan Neshin, Afghan Border Policemen have been able to engage with the population, ensuring their security and safety from insurgents operating in the area.
Afghan policemen with 2nd Tolai, 1st ABP Kandak, have partnered with Marines of Alpha Company, 1st LAR, to police and patrol through villages where ANSF presence was previously non-existent.
“We’ve introduced the ABP to the locals here to get them working as a police force,” said Gunnery Sgt. Larry Thompson, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of Border Advisory Team 2. “They patrol the neighborhoods and they’re building a rapport with the population so they can work together.”
The ABP are utilizing their policing skills, honed under the guidance of Marines and sailors with BAT 2, currently in support of 1st LAR operations, during long patrols through villages. They hold small shuras with local elders, explaining their mission and presence in Khan Neshin.
“They’re doing surprisingly well,” said Thompson. “They made a schedule for patrolling, which is something new, and they’ve stuck to it.”
The smiles and friendly greetings from children and local shopkeepers bring to light the contrast between the ABP’s tireless efforts to build rapport with the people and insurgent tactics of fear and intimidation.
“We’re happy about working with the Marines and working with the local people,” said Sgt. Mohammad Sardar, an assistant commander with the ABP. “The people are happy and appreciate it when we come out and help them.”
Their work doesn’t end with protecting the population. The ABP continue to train and learn from Marines of Alpha Company, and BAT 2. They recently conducted a live fire range, to ensure the functionality of their weapons and their proficiency in operating them.
“We’ve mentored and trained them in police and border [security] operations, detainee handling, and overall infantry tactics,” said Thompson.
“We’re also training them in criminal investigation,” said 1st Lt. James Leenhouts, the BAT 2 embedded team leader and 25-year-old native of Waukesha, Wis. “Their capabilities are simple right now but they’re working hard.
As the presence of ANSF grows throughout southern Helmand, the ABP will continue their diligent efforts to maintain the rapport they’ve built with the local residents in the remote villages of Khan Neshin.
“The people have promised to help us in the future,” said Sardar. “They’re tired of the fighting, and they just want to live in a peaceful place.”
Editor’s note: First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is part of Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division (Forward), which 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.