Afghan Police Transform Into Professional, Equipped Force
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2008 – When Army Col. Thomas J. McGrath arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year as the commander of the Afghan Regional Security Integration Command, he stopped in on a police checkpoint.
Of the 25 Afghan police manning the point, only one had a police shirt on, only one had a weapon, and they all were high on hashish, the colonel said today in a conference call with members of veteran service organizations.
“They were totally disorganized, but that was your police department,” McGrath said. “It was pretty scary to think about what wasn’t there.”
Now, the same checkpoint is manned by 25 fully equipped police officers, all in uniform and professionally trained under a new program called focused district development.
McGrath called the program’s inception a “flash of brilliance” and said it has changed the course of the fight in many of Afghanistan’s rural districts, where the police once either worked with the Taliban or simply turned a blind eye to their activities.
The training program’s goal is to form a standardized, uniformed police force across the country. District by district, all the officers are removed and taken to a regional training facility. They are backfilled in the meantime with members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, a highly trained national police force.
The local police go through eight weeks of training in security and infantry tactics. They are given uniforms, weapons, radios and vehicles, and then return to their district as a transformed force, still under the watchful eye of a squad-sized coalition-force mentor team.