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By Jessica L. Tozer
Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2011 – For NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, success in fielding Afghanistan’s national police force stands on four pillars, the general in charge of the effort said last week.
Army Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden Jr., deputy commander for police for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan, said during a Sept. 29 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable that the approach is the cornerstone for establishing peace and stability in the region.
“Since NATO Training Mission Afghanistan was established only two short years ago, we've been building the police force as quickly as possible to the necessary levels to restore and maintain peace,” Golden said. The original plan, he explained, was to recruit Afghan police and then send them to their units for hands-on learning. Recently, however, NATO forces in Afghanistan changed to a recruit-train-assign model, with a view toward improving the quality of policemen and emphasizing quality over quantity, the general said.
“This is paying great dividends in the fielded force, where the majority has received the same standardized training,” he added.
The four divisions of the Afghan National Police comprise the four pillars of the training mission’s approach, Golden said.
“The Afghan Uniformed Police are the primary means of policing in Afghanistan,” he said. “They are the traffic police [and the] fire and rescue departments, and are divided into seven regional zones and 34 provinces.”
The second pillar is the Afghan National Civil Order Police, who handle the counterinsurgency mission. They provide crisis and anti-terror response and riot control, and also deal with Afghanistan’s counternarcotics effort.
The third is the Afghan Border Police, who patrol and secure the borders of Afghanistan and control entry ports such as airports and border-crossing points.
The Afghan Anti-Crime Police are the fourth pillar, which focuses on investigative and police intelligence capacities. They are responsible for counterterrorism, counternarcotics, police intelligence, criminal investigations, the major crimes task force, police special units and forensics.
NATO forces are working to provide a holistic approach to the teaching and training of the four pillars to make sure that they remain a strong and well-equipped security force, Golden said, noting that the training is specific and centralized, dedicated to targeting and handling specific issues in Afghanistan.
The training mission also has implemented a progressive literacy program designed to give the Afghan forces the skills they need to succeed, he said. The Afghan national literacy rate is 28 percent, he noted, and 90 percent of Afghan National Police recruits are illiterate and innumerate when they come in to be trained, the general added.
“Literacy is also a critical part of our training; it is essential for the Afghan National Police to do their jobs,” he said. “They need to write tickets, read and write down the serial number of their weapons, and read their paycheck. Having a literate police force is critical to restoring the people's faith in the police force and in removing corruption from its ranks.”
As of mid-September, more than 30,000 Afghan National Police members were enrolled in literacy training. All patrolmen are required to have a first-grade literacy level, and since 2009, more than 36,000 recruits have passed the test. Once they have graduated from basic literacy training, they receive additional training in the field to pass the second and third levels of literacy.
“Respectively, over 22,000 and 13,600 have passed those literacy level tests,” Golden said. “That's over 72,937 Afghan policemen who can now read and write thanks to the literacy training provided by NTM-A.”
The Afghan National Police also employ about 1,200 women, the general said, with a goal of increasing that number to 5,000 over the next three years. Golden said the Afghan National Police’s pillars are a major part in establishing strength and resilience in Afghanistan, and that NATO training mission forces are working toward their 2014 goal of Afghans being responsible for security throughout their nation with constant successes and improvements.
“With the improved eight-week basic training class, literacy training, and focus on quality versus quantity, I think that the four pillars of the ANP will continue to improve,” he said. “All of the incoming equipment will help improve their capabilities, and the people of Afghanistan will see the positive changes in their police men and women. And as 2014 approaches, the transition of the ANP to Afghan control will be a logical and progressive step.”
When it comes down to the foundation of Afghanistan's security forces, Golden said, the training that NATO provides is part of the necessary footwork that the country needs to stand tall and strong.
“I think what we're doing from a training perspective is absolutely essential,” he said. “It really goes beyond the police. It’s the police and the army and what we categorize as the Afghan national security forces, but the training they receive to become a professional, competent, sustainable and enduring force is absolutely critical for them to gain the confidence of the people here in Afghanistan.”