By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 12, 2008 - The Afghan Interior Ministry announced the creation of the country's first neighborhood watch program at a news conference here yesterday. Interior Minister Zarar Ahmad said he wanted to give the people of Afghanistan a way to report crime anonymously without the fear of reprisals. He consulted with his Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan counterparts, and the neighborhood watch program was born.
"The people of Afghanistan will play a large role in this program," Ahmad said. "The program is for the people of Afghanistan to take care of their own communities and report suspicious activities."
The program is designed as a defense system for neighborhoods and communities. Officials said criminals and enemies know that people are paying attention to people or situations that could be threatening in the neighborhood.
Army Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, commander of Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, touted the benefits the program would have on the local communities. He cited more than 100 reports of recovered improvised explosive devices and illegal weapons that were confiscated by the Afghan National Police.
"The best security systems for Afghan communities are ones designed by Afghans," Cone said. "We will help provide training and financial assistance to make sure this program is successful."
The Interior Ministry provides a training class for volunteers and national police officers who patrol the communities. One Police representative attends the training, then takes back the information to share with other officers.
(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Graham serves in the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)