CSTC-A Screens New ANP Students
© 2008 FrontLine Defence (Vol 5, No 4)

July 2008 – Konduz, Afghanistan – More than 200 students were recently processed into the Regional Training Center (RTC) by Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan civilians, with the help of U.S. Army Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan mentors.

The Afghan-led police training program is aimed at creating a professional and ­well-trained police force. CSTC-A mentors, serving as subject matter experts, are on hand to advise their Afghan counterparts.

Currently commanded by Major-General Robert W. Cone, the goal of CSTC-A mentors is to help the ANP leadership develop a sturdy processing system for police training, which leads to a trustworthy force.

“The goal [is] to make sure the people the ANP are recruiting and training are good, trustworthy people,” says CSTC-A ANP recruiting mentor Lt-Cmdr Sheila Pearson. “This is the start of that progression.” Having the process led by Afghans is the first step in building trust in the police force for the people of Afghanistan. “Being responsible for the screening, training them correctly and then sending them out into the community, so the people can trust them and believe in them, is a huge step.”

During enrollment, an Afghan representative who collects the students’ individual data, such as name, father’s name, rank, and district where they work, then assigns a processing number. This number, along with the personnel information, is used to track the students at the RTC. Additional information is then collected by an Afghan ID card team. They check their database to determine if the student already has a national identification card and verify the expiration date as applicable. If the student does not have a national ID, more personnel data is collected.

The students undergo a basic medical screening, sight and hearing tests, immunizations, and drug testing. Based on the results of the medical screening, the Afghan doctor makes a recommendation on the student’s qualification or disqualification.

Students also undergo a biometrics screening – photos, fingerprints, handprints and iris are scanned by a ministry of interior biometrics team – to compare unique physical traits of the students to a criminal database. According to U.S. Army Sergeant Wayne Demar, a CSTC-A biometrics coordinator, this benefits the ANP in more ways than just tracking. “The biometrics screening process acts as a deterrent,” he asserts. “If these men know the system will identify anyone who has committed any crimes, it will deter criminals from trying to enter the force.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. Sam Shimp, CSTC-A finance reform officer, briefs students on fiances, such as what pay to expect while in training and on return to their districts. He says electronic funds transfer, now used by the ANP to directly deposit salaries into bank accounts, has cut down on pay ­disbursement problems. “Their previous pay-by-list system, in which one person collects and distributes money for the group, wasn’t ideal. By the time the money reached the students, it wasn’t the full amount they were owed,” Shimp explains. The new system is effective “because it cuts down on the corruption of money changing hands.”

The students also receive new uniforms and gear. Overseeing the process, is Chief Master Sgt William Sciarretta. He considers the new ­kit to be another way the ANP will gain trust with the people of Afghanistan. “This not only standardizes the force, but brings it to a certain standard. It gives them a greater capability to defend themselves, as well as a better image.”

“We are a team – working together and helping to improve the police together,” syas ANP Colonel Hadid Khan, Konduz RTC training commander, echoing the mentors’ sentiments. “Our country is different because some people linked with the enemy try to join the police. This system will find the bad people and keep them from our force. The people of Afghanistan will understand that.”
© Frontline Defence 2008