Northern Ireland's contentious marching season could provide perfect training opportunities for Afghan police officers, a senior soldier has said.
Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Piggott whose troops from the Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG) are mentoring Afghan police in war-torn Helmand Province, claimed valuable lessons could be learned from how the PSNI handles sensitive set-piece events such as the Twelfth.
He said: "There is a very clear parallel between what it is the Afghan Uniform Police are doing on a daily basis with what the PSNI do during the marching season. Although one is crowd control and one is counter- insurgency, the principals of planning and co-ordination are much the same."
High-ranking Afghan police officers have already travelled to the UK to observe how police forces co-operate with other agencies. However, Lt Colonel Piggott, 42, from London, who served several operational tours of duty in Northern Ireland, believes bringing them to Belfast would be beneficial.
He said: "There would be valuable lessons that have been hard-learned in Northern Ireland within a gold-standard headquarters like Knock (PSNI HQ) that would be of use to a developing police force such as the Afghan Uniform Police.
"Knock is stood up during the marching season. For the rest of the year it is a response cell whereas during the marching season all of the agencies are in and are co-operating together with a police lead to manage a security situation.
"When you transpose some of the bigger religious events here (Afghanistan) like Eid and Ashura where there is potential for security and disorder, the Operational Co-ordination Centre's and particularly the one in the provincial headquarters (at Lashkar Gah) would benefit from seeing how those services work together."
Lt Colonel Piggott is leading a unit of almost 500 soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards - 20% of whom are from Northern Ireland - based at a military operating base in Helmand's provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.
They are part of the police mentoring and advisory group working with the fledgling Afghan force to develop their capability, confidence, authority and basic accountability. They mentor some of the 11 units which make up the Afghan National Police including the uniformed officers, intelligence unit and riot squad.
Last autumn, PSNI officers flew to the RDG base at Catterick in North Yorkshire to host two training sessions for rank and file soldiers.