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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Mahmoud, a member of the Afghan Uniform Police detachment currently embedded with the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team, performs pre-mission checks on his vehicle at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. In what is believed to be the first-time ever in the country, Mahmoud and his team are currently attached to the Paktika PRT in order to learn policing skills and to gain mutual understanding across cultures. The AUP personnel eat, live and train with PRT members. Roughly five AUP personnel with spend about six months with the PRT before returning to their normal units throughout Paktika province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan— In many ways, they look like any other coalition force crew preparing for a day’s work. In fact, if it wasn’t for their differing uniforms, you probably could not tell the Afghan Uniform Police apart from their Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team brethren.

Perhaps that’s because they live in the same barracks as the PRT members.

 

In what is the first-known situation of its kind in Afghanistan, AUP personnel, at the invitation of the PRT commander, have joined up with the PRT to learn tactics, techniques and procedures as well as build understanding across military units at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan.

 

The policemen train, live and work with the rest of the PRT members on the FOB. They also travel with the PRT on every mission outside the wire. Finally, they receive specialized instruction from knowledgeable PRT members regarding police maneuvers that they then take back to their regular units to teach fellow AUP officers.

U.S. Army Capt. Peter Coffman, the PRT’s operations officer and a native of Fort Lewis, Wash., coordinates the training. Coffman is assisted by two Navy masters at arms, Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Taylor, from Austin, Texas and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Woods, of Florence, Ala., two active-duty sailors currently filling individual augmentee assignments with the Paktika PRT.

“The situation is unique because we’re the only PRT that has a permanent AUP detachment,” said Taylor, currently deployed from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif. “It makes it nice to have that camaraderie with them before we leave to go outside the wire, instead of linking up with different AUP personnel each day. With these guys, they understand how we operate and they are with us when we train so they know how, where and when to respond if necessary.”

To increase the capacity of the AUP, the PRT has established a training battle rhythm that takes what the AUP already knows and applies it to real-world situations the PRT and AUP may face outside the wire. These training sessions help the AUP not only become more proficient in their police skills; it also helps them understand how to better interact with coalition forces when conducting operations.
The situation, though working quite well, is not without its unique problems, said Taylor.

“Obviously, some difficulties occur with this unique arrangement,” Taylor said. “For instance, not being able to speak the same language is a big problem, but we’re getting around it pretty well.”

Most of the policemen in the detachment speak Dari, a language that isn’t as widely used in the province as the more popular Pashto.

To help alleviate this, the PRT committed a full-time translator to live with the AUP and ensure they understand and can communicate to the PRT.

Also, to further eliminate the language problems, the PRT security forces rely heavily on hand signals to communicate outside the wire.
Though difficulties exist, the benefits of having the AUP with the unit outweigh the problems that may arise, said Taylor.

“With the AUP here with us, we know that every mission will have an Afghan face,” said Taylor. “When we are out conducting operations, people can see the AUP with us and make the connection that we support their government. I think it really helps with stabilization or at least helps to calm the nerves of locals that may have misconceptions regarding coalition forces.”

From the AUP, PRT members receive valuable experience in dealing with a different culture as well as gain a better understanding of the Afghan peoples’ motives and sensitivities.


The AUP will rotate a team of individuals every four to six months through FOB Sharana in order to train as many AUP personnel as possible, said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brian Hoyt, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team commander from Phoenix, Ariz.


Each team will be given the same training, helping to ensure that the AUP personnel leave their short assignment with the PRT better off than when they arrived.


The training they receive will then be taken back to their regular AUP unit, enhancing the ability of countless other AUP personnel.
The end goal is to have a more proficient, more informed and ultimately a better prepared police force for Paktika province, said Taylor.


“Working with the AUP is an excellent opportunity for good in this province,” said Taylor. “As the AUP increase in knowledge and experience, they can take a more active role in the policing of the community. This will ultimately lead to a more secure Afghanistan.”


PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Wesley Koelzer, of Savannah, Mo., takes a moment to teach Afghan Uniform Policeman Taqi safe clearing procedures at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan following a recent training session. In what is the first-known instance in the country, the AUP personnel have embedded with the Paktika PRT to influence and enhance their policing, knowledge and language skills. A team of AUP personnel with spend roughly six months with the PRT before returning to their normal units throughout Paktika province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team)PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — U.S. Navy Petty Officers 2nd Class Juan Alicea, of Staten Island, N.Y., and Norman Anderson, of San Diego, Calif., interact with Afghan Uniformed Police members on Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. In what is the first-known instance in the country, the AUP personnel have embedded with the PRT to influence and enhance their policing, knowledge and language skills. Having the AUP with the unit helps the American forces have a better understanding of Afghan culture. A team of AUP personnel with spend roughly six months with the PRT before returning to their normal units throughout Paktika province. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team)

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 July 2010 20:18
 

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