Police Advisory Team watches Afghan police take control in Nawa

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan – The Nawa police advisory team visited the Afghan Police Operational Coordination Center-District and surrounding precincts, Nov. 20, 2012.

The team met with precinct commanders, checked on detainees and assessed the continued stability of the OCC-D.

“As the Nawa police advisory team, our mission is to assess and assist the Afghan police force on how they operate and conduct operations within the Nawa district,” said Sgt. Sean Naquin, senior police advisor, Nawa PAT, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7.

The team spent the last seven months working closely with the Afghan Uniform Police and the Afghan Local Police. They oversaw the development of the Nawa OCC-D, an operations control room that allows different Afghan agencies to share information and coordinate operations.

“The AUP and the ALP work together as one like our own sheriff department and city police,” said Naquin, from New Iberia, La. “In the OCC-D it was Marines, ANA and Afghan police, and we would all share information.”

If there were improvised explosive devices found on an ALP patrol, they would share it with the ANA and vice versa. Then each side pushed the information to their higher commands.

“That way we have constant communication within Nawa, with all the different units working in the area,” said Naquin. “It’s to optimize the information to ensure that when the Marines leave, the police and the ANA have an understanding of how to communicate with each other.”

After working for months with the Afghan police, the team began to see improvements in logistics and coordination.

“Before we did not know how to use a map, (global positioning satellite) and grids,” said AUP Sgt. MahMad Dawood, the OCC-D radio chief. “They helped us and trained us how to find grids on a map. Now we’re able to work well with the ANA.”

After months of focusing on the control center, the advisory team realized they were no longer needed in the OCC-D. First they moved their equipment outside of the room. They were available if the Afghans needed them, but were not in the room itself.

After transitioning to being outside, the Marines packed their gear and moved to Forward Operating Base Geronimo. The OCC-D is now completely run and operated by AUP and ANA personnel.

The team also trained more than 75 ALP officers in their academies. The course covered everything including detaining suspects, marksmanship and evidence collection.

“The academies were really helpful,” said Dawood. “Many times we found IEDs, but didn’t know how to take care of them. The Marines taught and trained us how to take care of the IEDs properly.”

With the Afghan government and judicial system taking root, it was vital for the police to learn to collect evidence.

“Our country has been doing this police thing for many years,” said Naquin. “This is the start for Afghanistan. Were our cops this good and know how to do everything back in the day? Not without someone showing them and teaching them.”

The Marines were impressed with the progress they saw in the Afghans’ evidence collecting. This skill was formerly a foreign concept in Afghan culture.

“Evidence collecting is important because when they have a suspect, now they know how to prove (guilt or innocence) to a judge,” said Naquin. “They know now to take pictures and get (the judge) this evidence and say this man was found with these IEDs, and here are the IEDs, and here are the pictures to prove it.”

The Nawa PAT was successful because of their one-on-one time with the Afghans. Not only did they advise the police, they built friendships based on trust.

“I didn’t think we would have such a good rapport with AUP,” said Naquin. “At first they were shy. Now they look forward to our visits.”

With their time in Afghanistan quickly coming to an end, the Nawa PAT is preparing for the next team of Marines to arrive. They will continue advising the AUP and ALP, keeping one thing in focus.

“We are trying to make sure the Afghans are helping Afghans,” said Naquin. “When we leave, we want the Afghan police to be standing on their own, and they are making great progress toward that goal.”

By Voice of After The War