Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Afghan police 'becoming credible'

WO2 Steve McKinley 36, of Co Tyrone, serving with the Royal Dragoon Guards, who is mentoring Afghan police in Afghanistan

Soldiers mentoring the Afghan National Police (ANP) claim the organisation has taken huge leaps towards becoming a credible crime fighting force.

They said the ANP, which was once better known for its high levels of corruption and drug abuse, has made significant progress in seizing bomb factories, opium production plants and weapons caches in Helmand Province and will be able to cope when British forces leave the area next year.

WO2 Steve McKinley, 36, Co Tyrone, who serves with the Royal Dragoon Guards, said they have a high success rate in combating crime over the past five months.

WO2 McKinley said: "When we first came out here they were way behind the curve. However, we have got them to the stage where they are doing the jobs themselves.

"We have actually progressed it to the point where they are using the Afghan rule of law so, everything is warrant based. They have made massive jumps.

"Our success rate has been very high. We have done very well - double what the last unit had."

WO2 McKinley is among a unit of RDG soldiers living and working alongside Afghan forces at a police base in the city of Lashkar Gah - the provincial capital of Helmand.

Much of the Taliban insurgency has been pushed out of the city centres into the desert which means that although the police are involved in counter insurgency, they also have more space and time to tackle everyday crimes.

Major Ben Watts, 35, from Yorkshire, based at Operational Co-ordination Centre at Lashkar Gah, said he was confident the ANP could cope when the British leave.

"We are getting reports of police planning, conducting and indeed briefing ourselves to tell us they have done operations. Previously they would have asked our advice, now they just tell us. That is encouraging. They will need our help for a few years yet but by 2014, I think we are on track."

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