PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Jan. 6, 2010 – More than 40 Afghan National Police officers are learning skills to save the lives of those wounded in the line of duty.

The knowledge comes in the form of self aid and buddy care training conducted by U.S. forces who have been living and working with and mentoring the Afghans since arriving here more than two months ago.

“This training is very important because we’re learning modern medical techniques,” said Afghan National Police 2nd Lt. Homayoun Nabard, a police district commander in the Sar Howzah district here.

The training is conducted a couple of times a week and focuses on basic techniques.

“They’re eager to learn how to save each other and their own lives,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jeremy Gleason, who is instructing the police as a medic with 3rd Platoon, Blackfoot Company, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. “It’s like they ask themselves, ‘Do I want to learn this, or do I want to die?’ So they really get into it.”

“The policemen I have here are all buddies, and when we get attacked and sustain wounded, they don’t want to lose their friends,” Nabard said.

Training conducted Dec. 24 concentrated on the application of tourniquets and various carrying techniques. The policemen practiced applying their new skills on other trainees, before heading out to train under fire.

They began by practicing formations to move tactically to their objective, which was the top of a mountain. U.S. leaders mentored Nabard along the way so he could teach his men some of the more advanced techniques.

Once at the top of the mountain, soldiers opened fire into a range with mortars, sniper rifles and heavy and light machine guns, to simulate care under fire, while the policemen had to care for others, who were simulating wounds.

“It’s anarchy and scary when you have all of that going on, and now these guys can act within those conditions,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Josh Taylor, 3rd Platoon leader. “Anybody can put a tourniquet on, but when you have a Mark-48 going off next to you, it’s a different story.”

Gleason explained that the lesson plan follows U.S. Army training, which concentrates on massive bleeding, airway, respiration, circulation and head, or MARCH, wounds. The Dec. 24 lesson covered massive bleeding, to be followed by the rest of MARCH during later lessons.

“If you teach them all of the skills, one at a time, and then throw it together in the end, it all makes sense and you start to see all of the little light bulbs turn on,” he said.

Those light bulbs may be the light at the end of the tunnel for the Afghan police here, and for their ability to accomplish the mission.

“Now we are prepared, now we have good, trained personnel ready for the new society here,” Nabard said.

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