By Navy Lt. Neil Myers
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 30, 2008 - A Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team program here trains Afghan men to become part of the Afghan National Auxiliary Police force. The three-week Police Training and Advisory Team program was conducted at Camp Wright, near Asadabad, and is the only one of its kind in the province. The trainees come from every district in the province and are housed at the Asadabad police headquarters during their training.
"Many of the police trainees arrive at the ANAP course with poor discipline," Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos A. Ramirez, of the Kunar PRT, said. "We teach them discipline through repetitive activities and specially designed physical exercise."
After physical exercise, the trainees attend classroom training led by one of three Afghan police officer instructors attached to the Police Training and Advisory Team program.
Trainees learn traffic accident investigation, weapons familiarization, domestic violence investigation, vehicle searches, community policing, explosives detection, the penal code, baton training, handcuffing, and a variety of other law enforcement skills.
"I think it's good to have our three Afghan teachers leading the lecture part of the training, because they speak the Pashto language, and about half of the trainees speak very little English," Navy Seaman Brian L. Boyd Jr. of the Kunar PRT said.
The Police Training and Advisory Team military staff, assisted by four interpreters, teaches practical, hands-on training in the afternoon.
"Initially the trainees are reserved, due to the fact that for many, this is their first interaction with coalition forces," Boyd said. "Midway through the class, they interact more with us. By graduation, many of us are good friends. If we maintain this program, Afghanistan will improve, because these trainees want to become [Afghan National Police officers] and truly want their country to succeed."
The goal of coalition forces is to have Afghanistan secure and govern itself. Security is a big issue in Kunar province, and the police play a huge role toward accomplishing that goal, PRT officials said, and the PTAT contributes to that effort by providing a steady pool of well-trained police officers who are ready to serve their country.
A typical auxiliary police candidate, 36-year-old Ali hails from the Shigal district. He is married and has seven children. Ali is eager to complete the training and eventually get hired by the Afghan National Police at the end of his three-year auxiliary police contract. He has a positive attitude toward the coalition forces and understands they are here to help him rebuild his country, officials said.
The program also mentors police chiefs.
"We go to every district and survey the police station, meet with the police chief, and ascertain their needs," Ramirez said. "Whether it be facility improvements, more staff or equipment, the PTAT mentors and shows police chiefs how to properly coordinate assistance with other agencies for help run their stations. In some cases, PTAT provides assistance with building upgrades and repairs."
To date, PTAT has trained 290 auxiliary police officers, with 90 more candidates now enrolled.
(Navy Lt. Neil Myers serves with the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team.)