Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MOD police officer rewarded for training Afghan police women

The first female MOD police officer to train women in the Afghan National Police (ANP) has been awarded two national awards for her outstanding work during her deployment to Afghanistan.

MOD police officer Isabella McManus observes female Afghan police officers on the firing range

Sergeant Isabella McManus spent the majority of her six-month deployment in 2009 training female Afghan police officers to work as equals alongside their male counterparts.

On arriving in theatre, Sgt McManus felt she could not stand by and do nothing after seeing how the women lacked training and knowledge of equipment, and dedicated her deployment to developing their skills.

In recognition of her efforts in Afghanistan, Sgt McManus, who is based at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, near Helensburgh, has been given the British Association for Women in Policing (BAWP) Leadership Award and Opportunity Now's Champion Award.

She was also short-listed in the final three for the Forces section of the Daily Record Our Heroes Awards.

Sgt McManus said:

"I am very humbled to have been nominated for these three awards and to have won two of them. But this is not just about me. This recognition is for every woman in Afghanistan who is brave enough to put on a police uniform.

MOD police officer Isabella McManus trains female Afghan police officers to use the Sig Sauer 9mm pistol

"Every day they put their lives on the line to help build a better Afghanistan for the future."

Sgt McManus, who has been a MOD police officer for 22 years, worked with the Afghan women during her tour of Helmand province between May and November 2009.

She is no stranger to working in foreign countries and dealing with unfamiliar cultural issues, having previously served in Kosovo and Iraq.

Talking about training the Afghan women, Sgt McManus said:

"I found the quickest and best way to interact with the new recruits was to smile. Being open and honest is something that they value. Many of the women have been downtrodden but speaking with them as an equal really helps put them at ease.

"We did a mixture of classroom lessons and training on the firing ranges. Firearms training during the summer was really testing but many of them turned out to be real crack-shots.

"For lessons, we would sit on the floor and talk about what they would be doing, but then it was down to business."

Sergeant Isabella McManus

Sgt McManus knows that the importance of the contribution of the ANP to the rebuilding of the country cannot be underestimated:

"It is very important to create an environment where people in Afghanistan believe they are safe and able to go about their business, and a functioning and representative police force is key to achieving that," she said.

To read the whole article click here

Pictures: Corporal Steve Wood & Sergeant Rob Knight RLC

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