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Press Release
January 23, 2007
JTF Phoenix V commanded by Brig. Gen Douglas Pritt announces change in mission in Afghanistan
The following is a press release put forward by the PPublic Affairs Staff in Afghanistan describing a new portion of thie mission of the Task Force. This Task Force includes nearly 1,000 soldiers from the Oregon Army National Guard who have been in this theater of operations since June 2006.
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Jan. 21, 2007
Release # 0701- 06
Police Training Improves Professionalism
Story By 1st Lt. Amanda Straub
MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan – Reforming the Afghan police force is a difficult challenge that Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix V is tackling head on in Northern Afghanistan. Six U.S. military personnel make up the Regional Police Advisory Team (RPAT) at Echo Base, a regional training center just south of Mazar-e Sharif.
The mission of the RPAT is to provide advice, counsel and guidance to the police headquarters and regional commands in order to support command and control of police operations, management of logistics, personnel and finance, and administrative functions, ultimately resulting in an independently functioning regional police headquarters.
The reformation of the police forces in the North is a model of the country-wide reformation happening all over Afghanistan. Commonly referred to as the ANP, Afghan police forces are multi-faceted and face many challenges in operating effectively to secure Afghanistan and protect its citizens.
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The biggest issues faced by security forces in the north are not Taliban and Al Qaeda, they are warlords, drugs and highway robbery. The northern forces are last on the country-wide priority list to receive personnel, supplies, and facilities.
"Afghanistan is the largest, poor country in the world. Everybody needs everything," Col. Stan Shope, RPAT Commander, said. "The district headquarters are dumps. The police need a place to get warm, billeting, electricity, water, heat, uniforms, blankets. They need everything."
The extreme poverty in Afghanistan affects police officers and their families just as it effects all people in Afghanistan. Ensuring the survival of one's self and family is the most important thing in this culture of survival and it contributes directly to what Westerners view as corruption. Policemen in Afghanistan have been known to accept bribes from criminals, charge tolls at illegal checkpoints, and sell their equipment in order to make enough money to feed their families.
Shope says the problems with the police force can not be fixed with money alone.
"We can't just give two billion dollars in equipment to the police," Shope. "We have to train them on all the equipment techniques and maintenance and ensure that they use the equipment responsibly and maintain accountability."
The Ministry of Interior, in conjunction with coalition forces, hopes to curb corruption in the police force and shape it into an organization that can be trusted to
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protect and defend the people of Afghanistan and combat terrorists and insurgents alongside the Afghan National Army.
"It's a challenge, but it's doable," Shope said. "Nothing in Afghanistan is easy or fast. We can not be in a hurry. It will not happen overnight."
At Echo Base, coalition forces are combating corruption through the use of a Transitional Integration Program (TIP). The regional training center trains new police recruits in the north, but the TIP is specifically geared toward police officers who have been working for 20 or 30 years.
"We built the Afghan Army from the ground up with a system of checks and balances in place," Dan White, DynCorps International trainer said. "With the police we are trying to reform old habits."
White believes the best way to combat corruption is through educating the upper leadership in the police force. Over the course of the five-week TIP, policemen are exposed to training in constitutional law, use of force, penal code, responding to domestic violence, policing in a democratic society, the basics of human rights, personal hygiene, and prohibitions against torture. In addition, they receive refresher courses in marksmanship, police tactics, hand-to-hand combat and other basic policing skills.
"We can't just fire upper-level leaders because of the tribal and economic turbulence it could cause," White said. "Only time and education will fix this
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So far, White believes the program is working, but he emphasizes that it will take time to reform the police force.
"We can see changes," White said. "They know better now. They are educated. They know how to respond correctly. Now they need to have accountability for their actions through discipline."
The creation of an internal affairs office at the Ministry of Interior is scheduled for March 2007. White believes the formation of this entity will help tremendously.
"There's no hammer in this country," White said.
"They've got to start investigating themselves in order to stop corruption," Shope said.
Shope believes in the mission in Afghanistan and the progress he has already seen.
"You have a lot of good people here, you really do," Shope said. "Good people in bad circumstances."
Photos and Documents:
Fighting Corruption Cutlines 0701-06.doc
Contact Info:
Kay Fristad
Public Affairs