By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press ServiceJuly 11, 2007
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service, July 12, 2007 - A senior police advisor to the Afghan government described a new more heavily armed and heavily armored Afghan police unit during a conference call with online journalists covering the military.
Army Col. Raymond Bouchard spoke to the "bloggers" about Afghanistan's civil order police July 10 via telephone from Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan.
The new units will help counter new, more aggressive Taliban tactics, Col. Bouchard said. "They are a quick, rapid-response group that would help put down a national crisis or insurgent activity," he said.
The units will be more heavily armed and more heavily armored than traditional police units. "A lot of the equipment is going to look similar to what our Marines are currently using in Iraq, if the plan goes through," Col. Bouchard said. "Those are on order, and we're expecting that equipment to arrive by the end of the calendar year."
Officials are looking to supply the Afghans with mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles that Marines are using in Iraq. The heavily armored wheeled vehicles have a V-shaped bottom to deflect explosions.
The first three civil order battalions have stood up, Col. Bouchard said. However, most of the units' members have completed their basic training just within the last two months, so it will take some time before the units are effective against the Taliban.
Police training overall is moving along, the colonel said. Mentor teams are moving to Afghan districts and working with police officials.
While all this is going on, the Taliban have stepped up attacks against NATO forces, Afghan security forces and Afghan civilians, which Col. Bouchard said was expected. One reason for the increase in attacks is that summer is the traditional Afghan season for war.
The coalition and NATO will monitor the situation to see if terrorist activity falls or continues to rise, Col. Bouchard said.
"If it continues to rise, then it will definitely depart ... from the previous years as we've graphed the activity," he said.
Overall, the coalition is looking to upgrade equipment for Afghan police.
"There's always been that goal to increase the armored protection and the crew-served weapons in the future," he said. "It's just that we don't have enough of those supplies here yet. So I'm not so sure that we're altering our plans based on what we're seeing from the most recent threat; it's just taking longer to implement."