Friday, June 18, 2010

Policeman on patrol in Sangin

Royal Military Policeman Corporal Mike Hansbury is currently deployed to Sangin providing front line policing and forensic assistance to the Royal Marine unit he is attached to.

Royal Military Policeman Corporal Mike Hansbury is serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines in the Sangin Valley, Helmand

Corporal Hansbury is from 150 Provost Company, 1st Regiment Royal Military Police (RMP). He is currently serving with 8 Troop, 40 Commando Royal Marines, in a Patrol Base in the Sangin valley.

His role involves him ensuring that the recoding of information, questioning of individuals and detention of suspected Taliban fighters, is carried out in the proper manner.

It can also involve gathering evidence correctly to ensure any legal proceedings against an individual are robust and fair, or training other marines how to carry out these tasks when a military police person is not around.

Most of all, Cpl Hansbury is another member of the unit and carries out his RMP duties along with the rest of his patrolling tasks. He said:

"It's the same role for the RMP throughout Helmand province. You're an extra member of the patrol but you bring that subject matter knowledge – we're policemen on patrol.

"We know how to detain people. If we suspect someone of possibly having links with the Taliban we know the process to go through.

Corporal Mike Hansbury (right) and his colleague take up a defensive position along a wall at Patrol Base Pylae during a contact with insurgents

"We're trained on all weapons systems, we're all soldiers…. I've got a UGL (under-slung grenade launcher).

"Obviously being here you have to be fit in the heat with the weight that you're carrying going in and out of the wadis and streams…. I can also drive the quad (quad bike). There's no metal roads – so it's up and down through the wadis and stuff which is a bit more fun."

One of the routine tasks he gets involved with on patrol is vehicle check points (VCPs) or 'snap VCPs', where there is the element of surprise:

"As a vehicle or person comes through who could be a fighting age male, we bring them round to have a chat and get some information off them.

"Basic things such as where they're from, where they're going, what they have been doing - so we can get a feel about the atmospherics of the area. If we pick anything up, we can then progress with that," said Corporal Hansbury.

As ISAF adopts a policy of 'courageous restraint' - rather than damaging the lives and livelihoods of local Afghans through fire power, gaining information about individuals and the local area in this way allows the Taliban to be targeted more directly.

Such 'policing' also enables ISAF to interact with the population on a more regular basis. Cpl Hansbury continued:

"People are worried about their children and will volunteer information. For example IEDs in the area - they know that ISAF can remove them. Others can be less so – a bit cagey, but that can give you an insight into where they may have come from and we can delve a bit deeper and record that information."

Day-to-day, Corporal Hansbury lives in the patrol base with his Commando colleagues. He concluded:

"The Helmand River runs through the compound, so we can wash in there, wash clothes in there, and it is just good for cooling down in the heat. We have a cooker, so we take it in turns to cook and clean – again cleaning in the river. We just live like Afghan's really."

Pictures: Corporal Barry Lloyd RLC

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