By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert R. RamanSeptember 17, 2006
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, June 16, 2006 -U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Key and his fellow military police officers have provided security for several Afghan National Police checkpoints along the outskirts of Bagram since their arrival in Afghanistan last March."The mentoring is very good for all of our guys. The techniques they show us, we will use when we are actually running checkpoints."Abdul Kator, Afghan National PoliceWith their vast knowledge and experience, the MPs noted the instances where the Afghan National Police would benefit from that knowledge. This prompted Key and two other MPs in his unit to take action.In early May, the MPs began mentoring the Afghan National Police at an Afghan National Army outpost in the Kohi Sofi District about 40 kilometers south of Bagram. They plan to mentor a total of approximately 40 Afghan National Police."We're offering the [Afghan National Police] advice on how to more effectively conduct searches, set up traffic control points, vehicle checkpoints and to become more familiar with weapons like the M16, 12-gauge shotgun, and AK47," said Key, a squad leader with the 561st Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky."The ultimate goal is for them to be able to conduct searches so they are able to discover and restrict the flow of contraband through their individual areas of operation and do it in so it's safe for them and also safe for the passengers of the vehicle," said Key, from Clarksville, Tenn.Upon learning of the opportunity, the mentors were eager to assist the Afghan National Police in becoming more proficient at their jobs."I was excited because we've been on a lot of vehicle check points with these guys and basically work with them on a daily basis," said U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Greene, a team leader with the 561st and a native of Chicago, Ill. "Now, instead of making corrections on the spot, after it's too late, we can mentor them beforehand."U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Mitchell, another team leader with the 561st, saw this as an opportunity to help the Afghan National Police be more effective."This is going to give us an opportunity to teach them to perform more effective searches than before," said Mitchell, from Windsor, Maine. "They're going to find more (contraband) and it's going to benefit the entire operation we're doing here in Afghanistan."The mentors were chosen specifically because they were considered a perfect fit for this situation, said Key."My soldiers are top-shelf NCO's. I've been around a long time and we have a really good cross-section of instructors in Sgts. Mitchell and Green," said Key. "Sgt. Green spent a year in Iraq and has a lot of tactical aspects. He brings a lotof knowledge about vehicle check points, traffic control points and things of this nature. As for Mitchell, this is his first deployment in a combat area, but he has spent a lot of time in Korea and at Fort Campbell. He brings enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to the training."According to their mentors, the Afghan National Police are enthusiastic about the opportunity to take advantage of the knowledge and experience possessed by the American MPs."The mentoring is very good for all of our guys," said Abdul Kator, a two-year veteran of the Afghan National Police as he spoke through a translator. "The techniques they show us, we will use when we are actually running checkpoints."Fazil Rabi, an Afghan police officer who participated in the mentorship the week before, stopped by to visit his partner and provide feedback to the MPs."It was very good for me and is useful," Rabi said of the mentoring. "In fact, I used it just yesterday in a [vehicle checkpoint]," he said. "I think I'm much more effective at my job now that I've attended these classes. Now that my partner is learning the same techniques, we are going to work much more effectively together."Key thinks the mentorship will extend beyond simply honing the skills of the Afghan National Police."I felt this was an opportunity to make an impact," said Key. "I'm sure when they have an opportunity to impart knowledge they learned onto their peers, it's going to do that. If we're able to show them how to present an image of professionalism and confidence, that will have a way of permeating the surrounding area."Professionalism on their part will allow them to do the things they need to do with safety in the back of their minds; the safety of themselves, of their partners, and of the individuals being searched," said Key.Ultimately, the hopes of everyone involved, U.S. military police and Afghan National Police, are that mentoring programs such as this one will benefit Afghanistan and the war on terror as a whole.