Four senior members of the Afghan National Police in Helmand have spent the past few days in the UK, seeing the training that British forces receive before being deployed to mentor their men.
Colonel Asad Ullah Sherzad, the Helmand Provincial Chief of Police, Colonel Ayoub, the Head of Administration for Helmand ANP, Major Almas Khan, Head of Counter-Terrorism, and Lieutenant Ahmad Fared, Helmand ANP's Training Officer, spent time with members of the Scots Guards who will begin mentoring Afghan police recruits in the spring. They return to Afghanistan today.
The highlight of the visit was a trip to Stanford Training Area in Thetford, Norfolk, where an "Afghan-style village" has been set up to help British soldiers adjust to the very different environment of communities in Helmand.
Speaking at Stanford yesterday, Colonel Sherzad said he had found the visit to be a fascinating insight. He said:
"We have finally made it to the UK to see the effort that is being put into training in the UK. In the last two days of our visit I have been interested to see the amount of effort being put into training and preparation.
"When I asked questions, it was amazing the information the officers of the Scots Guards told me about what they were doing. On this training area everything is real, everything looks like it does in Helmand. It is more than perfect.
"I want to use this opportunity to thank, on behalf of the people of Helmand, everyone who put this training together to prepare British forces for how to deal in the culture of Afghanistan and the Afghan people."
Lieutenant Colonel Lincoln Jopp MC, Commanding Officer of the Scots Guards, was on hand to talk the Afghan police chiefs through the training regime for his soldiers. He said:
"Developing an effective partnership with the Afghan National Police is at the heart of our new approach to operations in Helmand. The visit of Colonel Sherzad and his distinguished team of officers is a tremendous opportunity for him to take part, not only in Brigade level training in Catterick, but also on the ground here in Thetford with troops from Scots Guards who will be mentoring his men in Helmand this spring.
"So much of effective partnership is based on personal relationships and I have hugely valued the chance to meet and work with Colonel Sherzad even before we have deployed. I look forward to developing this relationship when the Scots Guards Battlegroup takes over in Lashkar Gah."
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the first batch of Afghan National Police recruits in Lashkar Gah is now in the final fortnight of their eight-week training cycle at the Interim Helmand Police Training Centre (IHPTC).
The centre opened in December to accommodate the recruitment push for 160,000 policemen by the end of 2010.
Throughout the course, the recruits train on policing skills such as weapons handling, first aid, vehicle searches, and counter-improvised explosive device training. The instructors, comprised of Afghan policemen and British troops, also provide a literacy course and introduce the recruits to the Afghan constitution.
The IHPTC follows a curriculum for police training to that of similar centres in Kandahar and Kabul. The shared syllabus creates a national standard for the entire country and introduces a new level of professionalism to the police force, in addition to regular pay and provided uniforms.
Recruit Dawood Gul Zaman said:
"I was not a professional before I joined - before I could protect others, I needed to be able to protect myself.
"Our professionalism is not only the most important factor in defeating the insurgents; it's a source of honour."
Fellow recruit Khan Bashar Dost said:
"I came here because I want to be a good police officer and defend Afghanistan. It is my job to protect the people and maintain security all over the country."
Each training cycle trains 150 recruits and by March 2010 will be capable of handling three simultaneous courses with 450 recruits at any one time - a capability of up to 2,550 per year.A 100-metre firing range is currently under construction and there are plans for a counter-IED course.
Guardsman Michael Harrison of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, is an instructor at the training centre. He said the recruits' progress was exceptional, adding:
"Eventually, I'll be going back out into the field, and I'll get to see them put their skills into practice. I'll be fighting right beside them."
NOTES TO EDITORS
For more information about this press release, please contact Nick Manning or Ben Wilkinson in the Ministry of Defence Press Office on 0207 218 7954/3257
A selection of pictures from the ANP visit to Stanford Training Area is available for download at www.defencenewsimagery.mod.uk
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