WASHINGTON, June 4, 2009 – Though the Afghan National Police still face many challenges, they continue to make progress on a daily basis, a senior U.S. advisor said. “The police officers that I see and deal with on a daily basis are very dedicated to their cause and to their nation,” Army Col. Dave Harris, commander of Regional Police Advisory Command South, said during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable May 29.

Harris oversees 19 teams in southern Afghanistan that mentor thousands of members of the Afghan National Police in the country’s Helmand, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul provinces. The mentors live, train and interact with members of the Afghan National Police to prepare them to be a self-sustaining force, Harris said.

“We have developed what we call a mission-essential task list for the police in southern Afghanistan,” the colonel said. The police officers learn how to conduct cordon-and-search, response force, convoy search, site security and traffic control point operations. They also learn about community policing, criminal investigations and how to handle detainees, he explained.

Once the police are trained and their noncommissioned officers are developed, Harris said, the Afghans will be able to train their own soldiers and police in such tasks.

Prior to this rotation, Harris said, all NCOs were sent to Kabul for training. Now, an NCO academy is being built in southern Afghanistan, and it will pay big dividends, he added.

As the mentors continue to train the Afghan National Police, they also must deal with numerous challenges that include leadership, logistics, improvised explosive devices and engagement with enemy forces, he said.

“They’re in contact with enemy forces practically on a daily basis,” he said. “The IED threat is still the largest threat in the south.”

Compensation for the police has been an issue, but the Afghan Interior Ministry is trying to address that now, the colonel said. The ministry is trying to pay everyone electronically, but banks are limited in Afghanistan, Harris explained.

Logistics also has been a problem, he said.

“It is designed to come down through the regional headquarters through their logistics center, which is then broken down to the provincial level and then distributed to the districts,” Harris said.

“The process is in place,” he added. “We just have to work with them daily to make sure it stays on track.”

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