FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHER WALI, HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Afghanistan government officials and representatives from Regional Command Southwest, the Afghan National Civil Order Police and the Afghan National Army packed into a tent at Forward Operating Base Sher Wali, in Marjah, June 29, to discuss the emergence of Marjah’s soon-to-be permanent police force.
Currently, ANCOP is serving as the area’s interim police organization. Ultimately it will be replaced by a local branch of the Afghan Uniform Police, which will provide a long-term solution for Marjah’s security needs.
“Marjah is our number one priority to restore stability to the central Helmand Valley,” said Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commanding general of RC (SW). “It’s important to have stability here, to have a police force that’s up and functioning. That way the (Afghan National) army and the ANCOP can leave and go off and do things in other places.”
Many other notable individuals attended the event including Helmand provincial governor, Mohammad Gulab Mangal; Marjah’s district governor, Haji Zahir; and other high-ranking Marine, ANCOP and ANA officers.
The leaders discussed raising Marjah’s police force from 90 police officers to approximately 130 in two weeks. They talked about making living arrangements for the police in patrolling areas throughout the city. The decision makers also stressed the importance of recruiting locals from around Marjah to serve in its police force.
“It’s imperative that a good portion, if not the majority of the police that will be operating in Marjah to be from Marjah,” said Lt. Col. Brian S. Christmas, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “They’ll know the people. They’ll know when there are people here that shouldn’t be here. They are trusted by the people because they’re protecting their neighbors, so they’re ensuring that the civil order is being maintained in their hometown.”
In mere months, Marjah has been transformed from a Taliban stronghold to a rapidly developing and increasingly stable region controlled by the GIRoA. The leaders feel that this type of progress would not have been possible without the courage the Marines displayed when they pushed into the city back in February.
“I’d like to say that without the bravery, the gallantry of Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, without them fighting their way into the city, without the work they’ve done to keep security in the area while we raised the police force, none of this would be possible,” said Mills, who commanded 3/6 in the late 1990s. “Victory on the battlefield has been achieved, and pretty soon we’re going to be victorious as well, in the governments and development piece.”
With plans for a capable, permanent police force, Marjah looks to have a bright future.
“I think that in the future, Marjah will be a very prosperous agricultural town with a good, honest police force,” Mills added. “It will be a peaceful place, a place where people can go to school, have businesses, raise families and lead very happy and successful lives.”