Friday, June 06, 2008

Police Trainers Focus on Afghan People, Not Taliban, Official Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 6, 2008 - The
Marine battalion tasked with training Afghan police members focuses more on helping Afghan people prosper than on defeating the Taliban, a military official involved in the training effort said today. The mission of the 1st Marine Division's 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, is to train and mentor the Afghan National Police, which they consider "the center of gravity," Marine Corps Lt. Col. Richard D. Hall, the battalion's commander, said in a conference call with veterans service organization representatives.

"[The
police trainers] are not so much just wanting to go out there and get rid of Taliban, but they want to improve the people's lives, just like anyone would their own communities," Hall said. "That's the way the Marines are looking at it: 'How can I make their lives better?'"

The battalion is stretched across some 250 miles of Afghan turf and currently is focused on bolstering eight districts, Hall said. He added that new recruits in these areas are quick to learn lessons bestowed by their trainers. In addition to the Marines, personnel from DynCorp International, a private U.S.
military contractor, are providing the training.

The National Guard also contributes
police trainers. Many Guardsmen serve in civilian life as members of law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The colonel said the national
police represent Afghanistan's national government, extended to the local and district levels. This force often is local citizens' "first taste of government," he said.

The goal of these trainers, Hall said, is to convert four-man fire teams tasked with maintaining rule of law into 40-man constituencies, with the local populace playing a major role in the effort.

"Our aim is to teach them how to do things on their own," Hall said. "So by doing our best to turn over everything to them and teach them how to do things on their own, [we] try to set the conditions where they don't even want us here any more."

Hall said much of the training is focused on making the force more credible and more respected by local Afghans. The ultimate mission is to establish security, which often engenders prosperity. Likewise, prosperity can help solidify security gains, he added.

In addition to building security in the area, the battalion works alongside civil affairs personnel who are helping establish infrastructure.

"[Civil affairs teams] focus primarily on working with provincial and district leaders to plan and execute and put forth the projects that the people need," he said. "That may include wells, building schools, training doctors, and those types of things."
Hall said Afghan National
Police members have been surprisingly cooperative in working alongside U.S. Marines. He attributes this close camaraderie to a common bond: They are both pragmatic, warrior-like cultures. "I think they've already got this natural affinity towards our personalities," Hall said of the Afghan trainees.

"We're really motivated about our mission over there," he continued. "I think that we're not only well-trained to do this mission, but even for the opening few weeks that we've been executing our mission, we've already achieved successes that went a little bit beyond our expectation."

Hall said the early and clear success of Afghan forces is encouraging for the
Marine trainers.

"When you can see the results appear right before your very eyes in a very short period of time, you get that tangible result from your action and the immediate impact where you can visibly, physically see lives improve right before you," he said. "And that is really motivating."

1 comment:

John Maszka said...

But why are we still there at all? There was no good reason to be there in the first place.

In Afghanistan, we do not believe that alternatives were actively pursued, and advocates of war have been distinctly silent as to why various less violent options should have been rejected out of hand-such as the suggestion by the Taliban that bin Laden could be turned over to a third country, or the plea by Abdul Haq, a leading anti-Taliban Afghan figure, to stop the bombing so that the Taliban could be defeated from within with less suffering (Shalom & Albert, 2002:7).

Chester Crocker (2005:58) claims that the “missing ingredient in post-11 September American strategic thinking” was “good old-fashioned statecraft.” Contrary to the “extremes of dare-devil unilateralism,” according to Crocker smart statecraft “uses hard power intelligently, recognizes the limits as well as the potential of purely military power” and integrates it into an “over-arching political strategy.” This, says Crocker, does not describe the Bush administration at all.

Even Vladimir Putin disagreed with the Bush administrations’ decision to use military force in Afghanistan. He pushed for non-military interventions such as political, educational and economic, but to no avail (Wilhelmsen & Flikke, 2005).

Paul Pillar (2003:148) argues that the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban regime was not one of traditional state-sponsorship, “but rather a partnership in which the help that al-Qaeda and bin Laden gave the Taliban (money, development aid, and fighters on the front line of the civil war) was at least as significant as what the Taliban offered in return (safe haven).”

Initially, America enjoyed the support of most Europeans in its response to the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. However, when the US flatly declined NATO’s offer to invoke Article V, the light at the end of the tunnel became a bit clearer: “there was to be no more war by committee. Now the mission decided the coalition not the coalition the mission-and NATO was not required” (Cameron, 2005:89).

“Article V states that NATO members must consider coming to the aid of an ally under attack,” but it in no way guarantees “the use of force to assist an ally under attack” (Gallis, 1997). The Bush administration’s plans for Afghanistan and more broadly, for the war or terror, did not allow it to be hindered by diplomacy:

So we're training (bribing) some of their police officers. That may purchase lip service, but it will not purchase loyalty, and it will never change the fact that that the Bush administration attacked Afghanistan out of revenge, and for no other reason.