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Cpl. Aaron Rooks, MEB-Afghanistan / TF Leatherneck
COMBAT OUTPOST COSTALL, Kandahar Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - More than 100 members of the Garmsir Afghan Uniformed Police are anxious to return home with their Marine mentors after completing the Focused District Development Course here June 18.
The 13-week course took the existent Garmsir police force out of its district in late March and paired the Afghans with a five-man Police Mentoring Team from Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan to provide updated training in the tactics, techniques and procedures necessary to provide security for the people of Garmsir.
“The goal of the course was to develop a police force that can actively police their community and enforce all laws and regulations for their district,” said Capt. Chuck Hayter, Afghan National Security Forces future operations officer, MEB-Afghanistan. “Our Marines were enablers. They were able to provide an example for the policemen to follow.”
According to Staff Sgt. Brandon Amlong, brigade ANSF chief, much of the police force lacked professional training in their jobs when they arrived here, a combat outpost located near the Pakistani border.
Despite prior language and cultural barriers, Marines noticed progress after only four weeks of training.
“The motivation and enthusiasm with which the Marines trained the Afghans, but more importantly the way the Marines were embraced by the Afghan police, was amazing,” said Col. Barry Neulen, ANSF director, MEB-Afghanistan. “There’s a mutual respect between the Marines and the Afghan students. The Afghans very much respected the Marines because the Marines respected them.”
Cpl. Frank McKinley, a military policeman from MEB-Afghanistan, said he and his fellow mentors are optimistic as they prepare to travel to the Garmsir district with their former students, where they will continue to serve as mentors.
He said the students were already policemen when they first arrived, but they lacked the basic knowledge to be successful. Now, after receiving mentoring from the Marines, they’re proud to be policemen.
“Things in Garmsir will get better,” said Officer Mohammed Agha, from the Afghan Uniformed Police. “The people will be happy and will benefit from the training we’ve received. We will protect them and keep the people away from the enemy.”
Lt. Col. Guhlai, Garmsir police chief, said the police officers are ready to return to Garmsir.
“Everything they’ve learned ... on ranges, during patrols ... they should not forget anything, but instead, practice them and use them in their district,” said Guhlai.
The police chief said his primary focus remains the people of Garmsir and said his men know the importance of gaining their trust and confidence.
“They will win their hearts,” he said. “If the civilians support us, it means we will beat the enemy. We will win if the civilians support us. Because of this, my men have to support and serve the people.”
Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, MEB-Afghanistan commanding general, attended the graduation and said he was extremely impressed with what he saw.
“Today I can see the future of this great country,” said Nicholson.