In this Feb. 7, 2011 photo, Afghan policemen stand guard near the scene of a suicide attack in Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan. With hundreds more policemen on the streets, fewer insurgents are slipping into the city. There are 1,600 Afghan policemen in Kandahar. That’s 800 more than last year and the total is slated to rise to 2,100 by this summer. They are partnered with 850 U.S. military policemen _ up from 170 MPs last summer. The city is safer, but not safe. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

Kandahar’s police substation No. 16 is a small green metal building plopped on a patch of dirt.

While still primitive, U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Voorhees boasted of its progress when he visited one rainy day last week as a ragtag group of Afghan policemen — some still in summer uniforms — were lined up.

Outside the building, there are damp tents furnished with bunk beds. A tarp hung over an outdoor eating area. There was a latrine and even a pingpong table made of scrap lumber.

“I think we’ve moved from an F to a C or C-plus,” said Voorhees, commander of the 504th Military Police Battalion, which is deployed in Afghanistan’s largest city in the south. “They have hot showers, water, heated tents.”

The substation is one of 16 that ring Kandahar to help keep the Taliban from getting into the city to launch attacks.

Afghan policemen and American MPs live together at all of them, jointly protecting their piece of the city of 800,000. Ten substations are housed in buildings. Two are under construction. Four still operate in tents or temporary quarters.

Source: Deb Riechmann for The Associated Press.

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