Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 13, 2007 - Coalition mentors recently guided the Afghan Border Police here to make notable improvements at a border control point. There were no written plans, just some shared ideas. However, the mentors helped the border police create an effective traffic control point in less than two days. The creative process involved makeshift walls, impromptu help from a local tractor owner, and some old-fashioned elbow grease.
Their assigned mission from team leader Army Capt. John T. Boyd, of Cranford, N.J., was to supervise (traffic control point) improvements.
"We're all going to do that," Boyd said. "If we can get this route down, then we know we can go out and check the other five routes."
He explained that the border police and mentors need to be available to randomly check vehicles that cross the border through other routes, such as wadis or valleys without roads. Boyd said it is important to have the main route secure first.
After arriving at the border control point, Boyd and his team met with the Afghan company executive officer, 1st Lt. Saleh Khan, and the acting noncommissioned officer, Mohammad Ayoub Khan, to discuss and agree on goals for the weekend.
Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey P. Lowe, a mentor and the senior enlisted soldier with the team, reminded his team that, as mentors, they need to teach the leaders to lead. "We have to try to make them get their soldiers to do (the work)," Lowe said.
After lunch, most of the team joined the available border police on the road. There was already a point on the road marked by physical security barriers; however, the team leader recognized a need for improvements. Boyd said the check point needed to be better prepared to handle traffic and told his team the signs needed to be out further, warning traffic to be prepared to stop. He also said there needed to be an area where vehicles could be directed for searches to keep from holding up traffic as it approached. This would create a traffic control point that really keeps the border police in control of the crossing, he said.
With the executive officer and NCO in agreement, Boyd disbursed his team to work with the Afghans to accomplish the tasks at hand. Boyd and his men worked side by side with 10 Afghan Border Police, shoveling dirt, erecting barriers, and mentoring the men responsible for checking vehicles.
The border police were getting a better understanding of thorough vehicle checks. As a team, they and their mentors created an effective traffic control point. The mentor leaders continuously conveyed to the Afghan leaders the significance of them motivating their men to work hard.
At one point, the NCO stopped a tractor crossing the border road and hired his help in levelling the ground and moving dirt. With his assistance and the men's efforts the next morning, the traffic control point was completely remodeled before noon the next day.
Though the mentors did at times admit to dealing with frustrations, they were pleased at the results. "It's only been 10 months of them being in a unit here at (this border control point)," Lowe said, reminding his team they needed to show some patience.
(Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)