Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Afghan National Police Training Centre opens in Sangin

Training of the Afghan National Police in Sangin has been given a boost with the opening of a new police training centre inside one of the British army Forward Operating Bases.

FOB Jackson in Sangin is home to the men of 40 Commando, Royal Marines at the moment and they are directly involved in training and mentoring the Afghan police officers.

They have built a new training area inside the walls, and about a dozen policemen will rotate through the foundation and advanced training courses each week. They also go out on the ground with them, patrolling in Sangin bazaar and helping to man the checkpoints in the Sangin district.

"We need more checkpoints," says Captain Dom Rogers of 40 Commando, Royal Marines. "But we can't open new checkpoints until we have more men. So we have to be patient. But in the meantime we are making sure that the officers we have are as highly trained as possible."

New police officers are arriving in Sangin every week now, fresh out of training college, at a rate of about a dozen a time. They are essential to ensuring security in Sangin.

"The more police we can get, the more that frees up the ANA [Afghan National Army] to move into the Green Zone while the ANP secures the towns and villages," said MOD police trainer, Sergeant Andy Gaunt.

All of the police checkpoints in Sangin are partnered - meaning that British and Afghans work side by side to protect the population. One new checkpoint has just been erected on the edge of the bazaar, monitoring traffic going in and out. And they are setting up a recruitment bureau in the centre of Sangin to encourage locals to become policemen.

One of the checkpoint commanders, Mohammed Khan, said: "We have a good connection with the locals and the local community, especially the people who are in the peaceful area where we have our checkpoints. We are happy with all those people and they are also happy with us. We are trying to encourage all those people who are in the enemy's area to talk to us and keep up a connection with them. But security is getting better every year."

The Chief of Police in Sangin, Lieutenant Colonel Ghulie Khan, said the improving relations between the ANP and the Afghan people was a direct result of the ISAF training and the hard work of 40 Commando, who took over the task in April from 3 Rifles Regiment.

"Now they are well trained, they can get the confidence of the locals. All the locals in Sangin are tired of the Taliban and the Taliban activities. They don't want any more damage in Sangin," said Lieutenant Colonel Khan.

The new training centre will teach the police officers drills for countering improvised explosive devices, first aid, searching techniques, patrolling drills and checkpoint drills, but also more advanced subjects such as forensics.

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