The role of the Afghan National Police force is both military and civilian, attempting to enforce the rule of law whilst maintaining security. One of the most dangerous jobs in the world, it is reported that around 200 Afghan police are killed each month. Police Officers have also been accused of massacres and corruption. In Janurary 2013, a police commander in Uruzgan Province was accused of killing 121 local people. He fled to Ghazni Province. Recently members of the Afghan Police force, or imposters wearing the uniform, have become one of the biggest killers of ISAF forces. These attacks are now known as ’green on blue’ incidents.
Despite this it is necessary for ISAF Forces to continue to work with the Afghan police, as they will be expected to provide much of the security when foreign troops pull out of the country, perhaps by the end of 2014.
Afghan Police undergo basic training:
Yes that’s rugby they are playing, yes it’s around 40 degree heat, yes those boots are big, and yes the floor is rougher than your local Lidl carpark. It’s safe to say they are tougher than you:
They may be lacking in skill, but they make up for it in enthusiasm, perhaps something they carry through into their professional career as Police Officers:
I’m no expert but that tackle looks a tad high to me…
A younger member of the Afghan police, with his nails painted. There are rumours the younger members may be subjected to the wills of other officers, especially on a certain night of the week. Lets leave it at that:
Going out on operations with the Afghan Police is interesting. They are certainly very brave but their methods are often, lets say, unconventional. For example if they find an IED, rather than call in a specialist team the officer may decide to move a few feet away and set it off with a rock. They are armed to the teeth and there is always a question in the back of your mind wondering if they could be one of the ‘bad guys’.
Also they seem to pop up everywhere when you are on an operation:
Here a group of Afghan Police have found a getaway car, it was used by a pair of Afghan Police who murdered 6 other Afghan Police whilst they slept a few nights earlier. That question about friend or foe is never far away:
An Afghan policeman stands guard as ISAF troops ready their communications equipment:
Strike a pose. Their methods do seem strange sometimes, but perhaps effective:
Brave men doing a difficult job:
Afghan Police officer searches a local man:
There is a certain level of paranoia you feel when working with the Afghan police
They have one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the world.
Apparently an Afghan policeman, though not in uniform…
An injured Afghan Policeman is taken to a medivac helicopter by American Marines in Khan Neshin, Rig district, Afghanistan. During Afghanistan week around 50 Afghan policemen will be killed and many more injured.
During a visit to the Afghan Police HQ in Lashkar Gah I was presented with a disturbing scene. I’d arrived with some members of ISAF to see weapons and explosives they had captured from the Taliban. It was fairly chaotic and in the confusion I was split up from my guides and ended up being shown around by a group of Afghan Police. They lead me to a room where they had a prisoner who they claimed was involved with the Taliban. His face was covered, I wasn’t sure whether this was to protect his identity or restrict his senses…
They seemed delighted to show me, he was in hancuffs and they sat him in a large armchair.
I was then shown the room where the prisoners are kept. Both of these men allegedly work for the Taliban. It seems they sleep on the floor, they are not handcuffed in this room. They have a fridge, food and water and the window didn’t seem too secure. Things didn’t seem to add up but my minders caught up with me at this point and I was lead to where I was meant to be. There are always more questions than answers…
Remember that question, friend or foe? This is the moment it felt real. I walked round the corner and found this Afghan Policeman. He was crouched down behind a wall like he was hiding, and I immediately saw from his face he was looking extremely agitated. Was I being paranoid or was something wrong? He had something in his hands that he was constantly fiddling with. It was a live grenade. Paranoia? Friend? Foe? This is the question every ISAF troop has to consider as ‘green on blue’ attacks rise. He didn’t throw the grenade. Was he going to? Who knows.
Despite this ever present fear, which has certainly lead to mistrust, ISAF and Afghan forces continue to live and work together. I still don’t know where the paranoia ends and the danger begins…