Monday, March 2, 2009

Afghan National Policemen graduate from intensive training program

Date written: Feb. 26, 2009
Story by: Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso

SHOUZ, Herat Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Their country has been torn by war for decades. Many remember years of lawlessness and Taliban control. But despite the harsh conditions they have endured, they have chosen to serve and protect their people.

More than 150 Afghan National Policemen graduated from Shouz Regional Training Center, Herat Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Feb. 26, 2009.

For the past eight weeks, the new policemen have endured some of the most challenging training 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.

But the training they endured is a small testament to their dedication to Afghanistan and its people.

“These guys are recruited right off the street,” said Gunnery Sgt. Thomas D. West, the Afghan National Security Force coordinator for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan. “A lot of these guys have been operating as police officers for a while now, but they don’t get paid until they go through this course.”

Despite receiving no monetary compensation, more than two dozen of the graduates from the districts of Delaram, Bakwa and Golestan began their training a week later than their peers to ensure their districts were protected.

“Due to voter registration, the governor of Farah Province asked them to stay behind and provide security,” said Sgt. Nicholas Fagerquist, the senior Marine ANP mentor for the class.

“They stayed behind and started a week later than the other graduates, but they’re graduating with their peers because they worked late hours, squeezed some more training in, and because of the phenomenal job they did as students,” Fagerquist said. “My only hope is that they go back home, retain what they’ve learned and teach it those who haven’t been through the course.”

Many of his students shared that sentiment.

“I am very happy to have learned from (the) Marines,” said Policeman Abdulgaber Farhay, a course graduate. “I will (go) back to my home and use what I learned to help my country.”

Despite the dangers they will inevitably face, their courage and dedication to creating a peaceful Afghanistan has not wavered. They each understand the long and difficult road ahead of them and are willing to sacrifice everything for it.

“I am proud to be one of the people helping my country,” Farhay said. “I will do my duty.”

SPMAGTF-A’s mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations, with a focus on training and mentoring the ANP. Assisting the new policemen helps them grow, gain effectiveness and succeed against the insurgency.
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