American Forces Press Service
Feb. 22, 2008 - On the outside, they look like any other police officer in Afghanistan, but if U.S. Army Col. James Klingaman is right, this group of 143 newly trained Afghan National Police might prove to be the best in Afghanistan. Klingaman, commander of Afghanistan Regional Security Integration Command West, addressed the new police officers at their graduation Feb. 21. This was the first Afghan National Police class for the Afghan government's focused district development initiative to be trained in Herat.
The initiative is a reform by the Afghan Interior Ministry designed to improve policing in Afghanistan district by district. It was developed by Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan officials to address issues of inadequate police training, poor equipment and corruption, which made it difficult for the police to provide public safety and internal security.
These police officers from the Bala-Beluk district in western Afghanistan have just graduated from Phase 3, in which their entire district was reorganized, re-equipped and retrained during an eight-week course. Civilian police instructors teach the initiative's courses at eight regional police training centers throughout the country.
Phase 4 will involve re-inserting the new police officers back into their districts, which should take about a week and will be the initiative's true test, said Army Col. Peter W. Foreman, deputy to the commanding general for police development for Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.
"The real test will be this next week, when the police go back to their districts and we see how the people perceive them," Foreman said.
The police officers won't go back to Bala-Beluk alone. A mentoring team of U.S. soldiers will be there to help them use their newly taught policing skills. The senior enlisted mentor for that team is Army Master Sgt. John Welgos, who reminded the graduating class of their responsibility to protect the public.
"The eyes of the people will watch you closely," he said. "Stay on the path of good."
(From a Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan news release.)