By Air Force Staff Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 14, 2008 - Afghan National Army soldiers at the Afghan National Detention Facility here showcased their skills during an emergency action plan exercise May 11. The exercise validated the detention facility's brigade and battalion leadership, security platoon support, and the soldiers' search techniques and actions upon the notification of a missing detainee.
The battalion commander picked three soldiers to simulate escaped detainees. After briefing the role players, Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan military personnel headed out to separate parts of the facility to observe the exercise, deliver exercise messages to the soldiers, and note their reactions.
Before the exercise, the Afghan soldiers were trained on standard operating procedures involving a missing detainee. After developing their own emergency action plans, the soldiers rehearsed their actions independently.
Army Maj. Dawn Hilton, Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan military police operations mentor and trainer, facilitated the exercise.
"Each section has been trained independently," she said. "This exercise tests them collectively to see how they work together and what procedures they use."
The Afghan soldiers successfully relayed exercise messages of the missing detainees to the noncommissioned officers and officers in charge of their sectors. Shift supervisors then communicated the detainees' physical description to the commanders and search teams. Following the distribution of flyers containing the missing detainees' information, the search teams found the role players and returned them to the prison.
"All of our success with this exercise came from the hard work of our mentors and friends," said Lt. Col. Bhadur Shah, the Afghan battalion commander. "All of the information they gave us helped us to be successful. We knew nothing before."
Shah said the surprise of the exercise really tested his soldiers' reactions and knowledge of what to do in an emergency.
Hilton said Afghan leaders did very well for their first exercise and proved that they can sustain operations and lead their soldiers in a similar emergency situation.
"This exercise was very productive, said Gen. Haji Safiullah, detention facility commander. "Now, my soldiers know how to deal with this sort of situation, and the input from our mentors will help us to improve."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio serves with Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)