By Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 13, 2008 - The sound of idling Humvees resonated in the air as the police mentoring team commander briefed his team on convoy operations. With their orders received, the team mounted up and prepared to roll out, bound for Dandar, a small village in Afghanistan's Parwan province. Army Capt. Mark Moeckli and his team rolled out of Bagram Air Base and embarked on a scenic and treacherous journey over winding mountain roads.
Their task was to instruct the Afghan National Police on hand-to-hand combat, community policing, coordination-cell training, and criminal investigation.
Moeckli's team is made up of servicemembers who were trained in an array of military occupational specialties. With their combined expertise, they make a highly skilled and effective team, ready to tackle the task of teaching the skills Afghan police officers need to remain effective, he said.
The confident commander seemed secure in his team, which began work immediately.
"Some of the Afghan people do bad things, but most of the Afghan people want to see the Taliban gone and their country safe, just like we do," Moeckli said after returning from a meeting with Afghan National Police Col. Masoum Farzaie to discuss the day's objectives.
While the police mentoring team leadership met with the Afghan police colonel, the remaining team members prepared for a class on techniques for physical apprehension and restraint.
"We took it upon ourselves to give these training classes," said Army Capt. Donald Young, an Idaho National Guardsman and police mentoring team leader.
The teams of soldiers and airmen teach a variety of classes based upon the needs of the police in each district, Young explained. The day's classes were taught by the team's airmen, who are charged with training police in two provinces and 17 districts, and who recently taught police officers how to search personnel and control access to resources.
"The training is very good for us," Dawa Jan, an Afghan National Police officer, said. "Our main goal is security, and the classes the Americans give us help prepare us for that goal."
During the hands-on part of the class, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Padron, deployed from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., coached the police officers and gave them useful tips to help master the techniques.
"I love doing what I do," Padron said. "Teaching the Afghanistan National Police has been a great experience."
To become an Afghan National Police officer, applicants must have a high school education, go through testing and then attend a six-week course at one of the country's four academies. U.S. forces augment their training, helping them to retain the training they received at the academy.
"It is good for my policemen to learn from the Americans," Farazie said. "They have improved greatly since the Americans have come to teach them."
As the police mentoring team travels all over Parwan province, its goal is to give the Afghan National Police training and confidence they'll need to work without the assistance of coalition forces.
"We want to make the Afghanistan National Police sufficient, because in the end, it is not about us at all," Young said. "It is all about them."
(Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg serves with 382nd Public Affairs Detachment.)