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Coalition and Afghan Border Police living on the edge


ISAF Joint Command - Afghanistan
For Immediate Release
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KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 26)
– On the edge of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border at the end of Highway Four in the city of Wesh, in southern Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force and Afghan Border Police work to deter insurgents.

Each week they spend three to four days at the Wesh Border Crossing Point, collecting census information and biometrics, including finger prints, retinal scans and identification photos from Afghans returning from Pakistan.

Collecting biometrics supports the counterinsurgency strategy by helping to separate insurgents from the population. Finger prints found on bombs, or other insurgent materials, are run against an ever growing database resulting in a suspect possibly being found in either the database or during the actual biometrics collection process itself.

At the customs yard the combined team also x-ray vehicles crossing from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Insurgents use this route to bring weapons, bomb making material including ammonium nitrate and detonation cord, as well as fresh fighters.

"If we can make it harder on them to resupply we will have done our job," said 2nd Lt. James Herbert Fortune, with Second Stryker Combat Regiment. "They can still pack a donkey or truck and enter the border elsewhere but that would cost them significantly more time and resources. Instead of packing a truck and driving it to Kandahar, they have to go through dirt roads, wadis and they can't bring anywhere near the amount of supplies."

While the platoon checks commercial vehicles, the Afghan Border Police inspects personal vehicles and maintains the flow of traffic. The crossing is packed with people from children to the elderly; some on foot, others on bicycle. Together they all cross the border alongside trucks and cars. There aren't any stop signs, traffic lights or discernable traffic patterns, only the hand signals from the ABP.

"The ABP are the reason why Wesh is so safe. The ABP at the border crossing point conduct random checkpoints two to three times a week and every single night patrol Wesh twice. I know ABP in other parts of the city do the same thing," said Fortune. "Just the fact that they do these things keep insurgents from laying IEDs. They are scared to come out because the ABP and ANP are patrolling the city and will arrest them. These aren't coalition orders or ideas but total ABP initiative; we just ask if we can go along."

The local community in Spin Buldak district, where Wesh is located, supports the police and their coalition partners.

"Having people that do come forward, tell us where IEDs are and report suspicious activity, not just by calling us, but by coming up to our commander is something that has stuck with me," said Pfc. Nathan Lee Thompson. "The actual population, not just the police, are helping us clear their areas."