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American Forces Press Service

U.S. MPs Train, Observe Afghan Police in Action

By Sgt. Frank Magni, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

HERAT, Afghanistan, Jan. 31, 2005 -- Police tactical advisory teams have the enormous task of training and equipping police throughout Afghanistan. One group in Herat province has found success teaching their lessons outside the classroom.

The military police officers working from the Herat Provincial Reconstruction Team frequently accompany Afghan National Police as they conduct missions.

While it is not uncommon to see coalition and local police patrolling together to maintain security, it's the Herat team's emphasis on training and advising that is making its presence more beneficial in the long run, said Sgt. Reuben Roque, Herat police tactical advisory team leader.

Now in its fourth month of working in Herat, the team's strong relationship with the local police department is a result of the strong training by previous teams and the ANP's desire to be better, said Roque. "Our ability to expand our training on to the streets is the result of a good foundation with the local community," he said.

So far, the PTAT has been on day and night patrols, set up checkpoints, and has even been along on house raids. While along on missions, the team walks a fine line, though. "We are not there to do it for them. We want to be there to advise them while they apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom," said Spc. Christopher Greer, a member of the Herat PTAT.

For each situation encountered while working with the police department, team members have created and taught classes so the other officers can learn through them.

Being present while the Afghans use what they are taught will serve to reinforce classroom training, Greer said. "In the classroom, it is difficult to go through each scenario they will encounter," said Greer. "Giving pointers after they have just done it makes it easier to understand."

Lately, the PTAT has focused its classroom training on operations in urban areas. "They are very good students," said Roque, of the Afghan police. "They are very responsive to what they are taught. From planning to execution, they have made great strides."

For the PTAT, being on the streets with the police officers has yielded some benefits. Along with seeing the results of their training first-hand, the team members take lessons they learn in action and apply them to future training.

Just as training in the classroom benefits the police when they're on patrols, the PTAT's willingness to take the training to the streets is appreciated by the Afghan police officers in turn. "They appreciate us being there, because it shows them we care what they do," said Greer. "They respect us, and we respect them. It builds a trust factor and rapport for the future."

One other benefit the team has encountered is an extreme amount of job satisfaction. "I want the Herat police department to be the envy of other provinces," said Roque. "It makes me extremely proud to know in some way we can contribute to that."

(Army Sgt. Frank Magni is assigned to the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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