By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
June 29, 2007 – Afghan police forces are quickly following in the footsteps of their Afghan army counterparts to help fight the Taliban, thanks largely to training being offered through Task Force Phoenix, the task force commander told bloggers earlier this week. Speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan on June 27, Army Brig. Gen. Robert Livingston detailed the training successes taking place under the auspices of Task Force Phoenix. Livingston is commander of the South Carolina National Guard's 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade, which is leading the training and mentoring effort.
"We've been mentoring the army for the last four and a half years, and have a very successful record with them," Livingston reported. He noted that the Afghan army is now conducting many operations at the corps level.
Training the Afghan police has now become a top priority, and similar successes are occurring within the Afghan police since Task Force Phoenix picked up the mentoring mission in late 2006, he said.
Similar to the way the task force trains the Afghan army, it has embedded training teams with the police, he said. They work alongside NATO International Security Assistance Force teams
"to ensure that we're training one army and that we're training one police force," Livingston said.
"We're in the process of doing the same type of operation with the police that we did with the army," he said, "and we've had some very encouraging results early on with the police."
Livingston reported growing discontent about living with violence. "I think what we see throughout Afghanistan is that the people are tired of fighting," he said. "They are tired of the insurgency and the rule of the Taliban."
The Afghan government recognizes that the key to doing away with the insurgency is to strengthen the police force so it can serve the Afghan people, he said.
Task Force Phoenix is supporting this effort through its efforts to train both the police and military, he said. The army "is well on its way and in many cases has primacy," and the police force is following its lead, he said.
"Initial results with the police are very, very encouraging," he said.