April 27, 2011 —
Spc. Brady Klock scans the eye of an Afghan National Civil Order Police trainee as he puts the trainee’s information into the biometrics system at the Police Regional Training Center Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan. Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Quinton T. Burris.
MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan (April 25, 2011) — Rebuilding a nation presents multiple challenges such as establishing a government, providing the foundation for economic growth, and ensuring the safety and security of its citizens. But before any of these things can be accomplished, one regional training center in Afghanistan finds establishing a strong national identity to be critical to that success.
Regional Training Center, or RTC, Mehtar Lam in the eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province has been the home for this country’s police trainees, the Afghan National Civil Order Police, or ANCOP. During the past two years it has quickly earned the reputation as the “Golden Standard” by both Afghan and coalition leadership as having prestigious training.
Under the leadership of Afghanistan National Police Col. Janat Mir, RTC Mehtar Lam has produced approximately 2,000 police officers who have provided security throughout Afghanistan.
“The students here come here because they desire a better Afghanistan,” said Mir. “They train and eventually will fight to protect their homeland, for God and for the people.”
RTC Mehtar Lam trainees are each required to meet certain standards before being selected as an ANCOP trainee. The minimum age for trainees is 18; the maximum 35. Trainees must be Afghan citizens of good health with no criminal record, and they must be drug-free.
“The people of Afghanistan want trained, professional police,” said Mir. “A policeman cannot partake in illegal drug use and be a constant professional. The RTC is about training model police for the people of Afghanistan.”
The ANCOP trainees are ushered through an 18-week program that focuses on literacy training, physical fitness, cultural enrichment, human rights, self-defense, urban operations, riot control, proper weapon handling techniques and check-point operations. According to those overseeing the program, the training is intense and requires a lot of physical and mental fortitude of every trainee. Not everyone makes the cut.
“Every class has the potential to lose a trainee or two over the course of 18 weeks,” said 1st Lt. Will Andrew, an ANCOP mentor to Mir from Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based at Fort Campbell, Ky.
“Some trainees struggle to adapt, while others leave the program early to support the families they left behind,” said Mir. “Rarely is there a dismissal due to discipline reasons.”
RTC Mehtar Lam is focused on the task of developing Afghanistan’s future leaders.
“Trainees arrive to the center as boys but depart the gates as men,” said Mir. “This is a training center, which is the perfect place to learn. We have instructors here to teach, to demonstrate and to grow the trainees. As long as they are tough and silence the whining, we strengthen the weak and make the strong even stronger.”
If RTC Mehtar Lam bares any influence over Afghanistan’s future, then Afghanistan’s future is bright. Rebuilding a nation that has been in a constant state of conflict since the late 1970s definitely presents multiple challenges, but Mir and his staff at RTC Mehtar Lam, with assistance of trainers and mentors from Regional Support Command - East, are leading the way.