Private 1st Class Luke Rollins
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
LASHKAH GAR, Afghanistan (Jan. 15) - Afghan National Police recruits moved into the final phase of their eight-week training cycle, Jan. 11, at the interim Helmand Police Training Center.
The recruits are the first iteration to train at the facility, stood up in December, to accommodate the recruitment push for 160,000 policemen by the end of 2010.
Throughout the course, the recruits trained on policing skills such as weapons handling, first aid, vehicle searches, and counter-improvised explosive device training, said Capt. Ed Mackie, the chief instructor at the training center.
The instructors, comprised of Afghan policemen and British troops, also provide a literacy course and introduce the recruits to the Afghan constitution.
Mackie said he could see the recruits developing an enthusiasm for the training.
In the beginning, they couldn't see where the training fit into the bigger picture. Now, we have seen them practicing drills and doing physical training on their own time, he said.
The center borrows a curriculum for police training from similar centers in Kandahar and Kabul. This shared syllabus creates a standard for the entire country, introducing a new level of professionalism to the police force in addition to regular pay and provided uniforms.
"Our professionalism is not only the most important factor in defeating the insurgents, it's a source of honor," said Dawood Gul Zaman, a recruit in the training.
The arrival of the center increases the number of professionally trained policemen in Helmand. Each cycle trains 150 recruits, and as development on the facility continues, it will reach a capacity of three concurrent cycles by March, totaling 450 recruits at any one time and up to 2,550 per year.
The expansion of the facility will include infrastructural developments as well. A 100-meter firing range is currently under construction and plans for a counter-IED course are on the horizon. A more permanent facility, consisting of concrete buildings, is the long-range goal.
While the center continues to grow around them, the instructors and students are focused on finishing this inaugural training cycle.
Guardsmen Michael Harrison, an instructor at the training center, said the recruits' progress was exceptional.
"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," said Harrison, a member of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guard.
His recruit, Khan Bashar Dost, looks forward to it.
"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," said Dost.
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