CAMP MIKE SPANN, Afghanistan – A general with the Afghan Border Police speaks during a graduation ceremony for Afghan Border Police at Regional Training Center Sheberghan, Jawzian, May 17. The class of 122 ABP was the last class to graduate from the RTC with international mentors assisting Afghan instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James Bolinger)
CAMP MIKE SPANN, Afghanistan — The last Afghan Border Police class to graduate with NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan mentors at Regional Training Center Sheberghan, Jawzian, consisted of 122 students who completed the course May 17.
This was the second course in a row here that was entirely Afghan led. The instructors were members of the ABP who have been mentored by American Marines and Soldiers, as well as contractors.
"We backed off on the second to last course to make sure the (Afghan) instructors would be able to do this on their own,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Lewis, the senior enlisted marine mentor at RTC Sheberghan. "They had no trouble. (The mentors) just kind of sat in the back and observed. Actually, when this class went to the ranges, it was all organized by the Afghan instructors; they planned it, ran their own security and executed the mission. We stood by at the RTC geared up and ready to go in case they needed help, but they didn't need us.”
During the 9-week ABP course, incoming students were issued uniforms, taught how to march, learned marksmanship and ambush tactics, and practiced law enforcement techniques including searching vehicles, people and buildings.
In an effort to make the new officers more self sufficient, students learned how to work on the vehicles they will drive, diesel-powered trucks.
"My favorite part of the class was marching,” said one of the graduates ABP Private Ghullan Nabi, through an interpreter. "It is kind of (physical training), and teaches discipline.”
Nabi is headed to the Faryab Province and will serve there for three years in the ABP.
Regional Training Center Sheberghan is scheduled to be transferred to Afghan control. The class that graduated May 17 was the last with international mentors; however both the mentors and the Afghans believe that the course will continue to be taught well.
Through an interpreter, Afghan Border Police Pvt. Shir Mohammad, who joined the ABP to serve his country, said, "We were taught by Afghans instructor from the first day. I am pretty sure they will be able to run the course after the Americans leave. We believe that what we learned, we will use in the field. Training is like muscle memory, we are confident.”
"The best thing about the Afghan instructors here is the way they conduct classes,” said Lewis. "No one likes to sit through days of power point. Here the instructors teach with a hands-on method. In the morning students spend time in the class room. In the afternoon they get their feet wet, and learn the equipment and techniques by trying them first hand.”
"I believe they will take what they learned here and use it in the field,” said Mohammad Sediqi, executive officer of ABP 5th Zone. "They are good soldiers and are confident. Right now there are enemy forces trying to recruit into the Afghan National Security Forces. These (graduates) have been vetted, so we can get some kind of control, find people who will take responsibility.”
NTM-A is a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014. For more information about NTM-A, visit www.ntm-a.com.
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. James Bolinger
RSC – North Public Affairs