An U.S. soldier looks on as Afghan National Police officers question locals on recent insurgent activity during a foot patrol near Wanow, Afghanistan, June 14, 2012. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Cari Butler)
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan (June 28, 2012) — While the Afghan National Army may be stationed at various places across the country, the Afghan National Police are in charge of security at the local level. Local law enforcement calls for people from the area or familiar with the area.
Mohammad Rahim is with the ANP working to establish new relationships and protect the local community in East Dorafshan, Uruzgan province.
Rahim, the new ANP commander of the Kajak Checkpoint said, “My seven brothers work with me, the whole family at one checkpoint.”
Trust is not something that is established overnight. Even the deepest roots in Afghanistan grow from close family and tribal ties which help build trust. Family by your side eliminates the fear of the man next you to turning at any moment.
The eldest commands the checkpoint and is looked on by his brothers as the fatherly figure of the element. The youngest of the brothers prepares the chai and food, while two other brothers settle down after a long foot patrol. As they broke bread together, Mohammad Rahim discussed his former life as a farmer, when his brothers were only children.
“In the past there weren’t enough educated people - in Uruzgan there were different village commanders fighting against each other and killing people - it was very bad. This happened because
there weren’t enough educated people, but if we provide schools and education this won’t happen in the future.”
Historically, security has been a challenge for Afghanistan, and now Mohammad Rahim makes local security his family business. After the war began, his younger brothers followed as he paved a path for them into the law enforcement arena. Now, they overcome obstacles everyday thanks to the trust they have in each other and their coalition counterparts.
“I think the ANP are being set up for success, but they still need some coalition help. Basically, it is a confidence issue they need to get out and be confident in their abilities, that they’ve been trained,” said 1st. Lt. Steven Haley, platoon leader, Alpha Troop, 1-14 Cavalry.
Their brotherly bond was apparent, but they also adopted an American brother, Sgt 1st Class Robert Lowe, platoon sergeant, Alpha Troop, 1-14 Cavalry Squadron.
“I have worked with him before and he was my good friend,” Mohammad said referencing Lowe. “I did lots of missions with him and we had a very good time, so I requested to work with him again when I moved.”
Due to checkpoint expansion, Mohammad and his brothers were recently moved to this area.
“This is a very dangerous area, just last night there was an attack by the Taliban,” Rahim said. “No one would like this situation.”
Regardless of the difficult situations, the ANP are essential to provide security in the local communities of Afghanistan.
“We will stay here for security,” Rahim said, “if we are provided logistical support.” While they may fight logistical challenges, one thing they don’t fight is confidence in the men beside them.
“We try to instill discipline in them, the confidence and capabilities to maneuver and handle situations on their own,” said Lowe.
Lowe said their biggest achievement, “is that the ANP takes more initiative, they are braver, and they are more confident in their capabilities. Now, with the expansion of checkpoints in this area, they have to build from the ground up.”
“They are in a new area with new people in different tribes, it is important to build that rapport and trust so locals will come to them with their problems,” said Lowe.
The ANP has taken several steps to building that trust.
“Their big thing is trust and they are in a position where a lot of the locals don’t like them but more and more people come to us and tell us, oh yea we like the ANP now, we feel we can go to them with our problems,” said Haley. “The ANP make it work, they really do.”