SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Army News Service, July 17, 2012) -- There are hundreds of Afghan Border Police, or ABP, checkpoints throughout southern Afghanistan that all look relatively the same. Each features sand-filled barriers, green metal guard shacks, stacks of sandbags and at least one Afghan flag flying high.
Checkpoint 9 along Highway 4 here, looks just like the rest. But there is something unique about this location: it's open for business 24/7.
"They are the only checkpoint, currently, that we work with that conducts 24-hour operations," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason D. Taylor, platoon sergeant of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. "It is good that they are out there 24/7, trying to set that deterrence in order to facilitate catching the Taliban or catching any illegal goods, whether it be bomb-making materials or drugs coming through Highway 4 en route up to Kandahar."
As cars and colorful "jingle trucks" line up at the traffic control point, or TCP, border police and 1-17th Soldiers search for contraband hidden under vehicle hoods, inside trunks, under floor mats and on the top of the vehicles.
"Our mission [is] to go out to Checkpoint 9 and conduct TCP operations with the ABP," said Taylor. "And to partner up and build our relationship further to allow them to eventually take over the sector completely so we can pull back."
Decked in their chocolate chip-patterned camouflage uniforms, the local ABP work diligently and professionally while searching vehicles, questioning individuals, handing out educational leaflets, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with their American counterparts.
"They're motivated, and they work extremely hard," said Taylor. "It's always a good experience to go out there and work with them."
As the day progressed, the dozens of searched vehicles turned into hundreds, and it was quite evident that the ABP exercised a lot of initiative, relying less on direction and guidance from their brothers in the 1-17th.
"They are a good group," said Taylor. "I think we are moving in the right direction with the ABP, getting them well established to be able to take over for themselves in the next year."