Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Marines escort newly graduated Afghan Uniformed Police to districts

Story by: Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso

HERAT PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In a country torn by violence, drugs and civil unrest, a unit of Marines has brought dozens of reasons for the people of Afghanistan to hope for a brighter future.

Marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan transported dozens of Afghan Uniformed Policemen to their districts Dec. 1 after a graduation ceremony at Shouz Regional Training Center, in Western Afghanistan.

The purpose of the ceremony and security escort was to ensure the new officers, who graduated from Police Basic Training, were properly recognized and delivered safely to their posts.

“They must be given the proper respect for their sacrifice in providing peace and stability to the people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Col. Duffy W. White, SPMAGTF-A commander.

The new policemen endured a grueling eight-week training program to learn the skills required to patrol their assigned posts, such as weapons handling with AK-47 assault rifles, marksmanship, advanced first aid and non-lethal weapon techniques with an emphasis on human rights.

“This is a step in the right direction for the Afghan people,” said Rodney T. Jackson, Basic Police Training team leader. “You can’t help but be humbled by the fact that these men have volunteered, knowing how dangerous their lives are going to be.”

After the graduation, SPMAGTF-A’s ground combat element provided security and interpreters while the unit’s aviation combat element transported the new policemen to several Afghan districts to begin their careers as peacekeepers within their Afghan communities.

“I am very proud and happy to go back home and help my people,” said Najamudin Saudin, an Afghan Uniformed Policeman, through an interpreter. “The Americans have given us good equipment and a lot of knowledge that I want to give back to my people. I am grateful to the Marines for making sure my friends and I make it home safely.”

Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan’s mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations in addition to training and mentoring the Afghan National Police. Assisting the new policemen helps them grow, gain effectiveness and succeed against the criminal insurgency.
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