Tuesday, March 16, 2010

British forces train Afghan Police in finer points of policing

Every day the police of Musa Qal'ah lead combined patrols with British soldiers through the town's bazaar and out to the remote patrol bases manned by their colleagues in the desert and the Green Zone.

Smiling through the training - members of the Afghan National Police fine-tune some of their basic policing skills in Musa Qal'ah

The Afghan National Police (ANP) rely on their local knowledge of the area, their relationship with the community, and their keen sense to notice what is abnormal.

While British soldiers patrolling with them carry equipment to detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the ANP can often give an indication of potential sites so that the British troops can set to work confirming the deadly presence of an IED.

But this is not all the ANP do. Now, in an atmosphere of growing stability in Musa Qal'ah, the ANP are adopting more conventional policing skills.

Under the watchful eyes of the Royal Military Police's Corporal Natasha Richards, and Captain Damian Coxon, ten members of the ANP have begun a course to teach them the techniques of searching for evidence and preserving it to ensure prosecution.

Captain Damian Coxon and Corporal Natasha Richards discuss policing methods with members of the Afghan National Police at Musa Qal'ah Camp

The ten, selected for this training by Afghan Chief of Police Commander Koka, represent the top five per cent of the Musa Qal'ah force.

They start the day with classroom lessons followed by practical training in the dusty courtyard outside, searching a compound marked on the ground by white tape.

Captain Coxon said:

"Two months ago 142 members of the ANP here in Musa Qal'ah were sent away to do the focused district development course.

"On this course they were drugs-tested, had discipline instilled into them and were trained in infantry tactics over a six-week period.

"We've had immense success in this particular field but up until now there's been very little police-orientated training.

"So the aim of the next week's training is to take ten of them and teach them how to be policemen.

"Today they have been carrying out this training, and have covered evidence-handling and how to search a compound for evidence, what to do once they've found it and searching the people inside, and furthermore how to speak and liaise with the people in the compound to make the police seem less of a threat, but more as a group of people who are working to secure the area for the local nationals."

Commenting on the training, Nematullah, a policeman for four years, said:

"This training that has been given to us is really useful. The British Army is really helping us, trying to train us in how to behave with people and bring improvements to Musa Qal'ah."

Ziaullaq, on the force for six years and standing guard at the entrance to the courtyard, added:

"People are really happy to see us patrolling on the streets, and the other thing is that people are really likely to talk with us about the Taliban. They really want us to be here because we provide their security."

And training is the name of the game throughout the ranks of the ANP in Musa Qal'ah.

MOD Police Sergeant Chris Smith is helping train the police but has the added responsibility of mentoring Commander Koka. He said:

"Mainly we've had to mentor Commander Koka's decisions to give him options that he might not have considered himself.

"There have been several occasions where we have had to point him in the right direction and to make sure that he has maintained some transparency in his dealings with the public in order to raise the profile of the ANP and so the public can see they are being served fairly."

Pictures: SSgt Will Craig


  1. This article was of interest however after hearing today of another 2 deaths(MAY THEY R.I.P)it is obvious that 'we' are still doing the majority of finding the IED's - why can't that be one of the first things the ANP learn - yes I understand 'slowly but surley' but at the end of the day - it is their country - and as you commented - they know the area...The locals, if truth be told, should relate to the ANP more than us...as no matter what we do to help them...they still don't fully trust us..perhaps I am just angry..but the fact remains these people (locals) have to start helping themselves and they have to start trusting their own - and yes, in the past some ANP were corrupt and so the locals don't fully trust them but which country in the world can stand firm and say there is no corruption in their country? Training is obviously required and it would be great if that is what we could do and then get out...but that will not be the case will it? As always - so very proud of our troops. God Bless you All x

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