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Across northern Afghanistan, ALP provide increased security to populace

Members of the Afghan National Police and Afghan Local Police fire their AK-47 rifles from the kneeling position during weapons training in Nawbahar district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, March 1. The ANP and ALP work with other Afghan National Security Forces to provide security and stability in the district.

Story by Staff Sgt. Cody Sedlacek
Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force
Afghanistan Media Operations Center

BALKH PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Almost a year ago, there were only 300 Afghan Local Police in the northern region of Afghanistan, and they were often confused with unofficial groups of local security forces. Today, there are over 1,500 ALP in northern Afghanistan, and nobody is confused about who they are and what their role is in the community.

The ALP is a Ministry of Interior program assisted by coalition Special Operations Forces designed to provide local security, allow increased governance and development without fear of insurgent intimidation. Additionally, ALP are selected during a village shura, and only operate and patrol within their own village.

“The ALP provide security for their own village,” said Maj. Joseph Leach, Task Force Balkh deputy commanding officer. “They are nominated by the villagers, vouched for by the village elders, and vetted by elements of the Afghan government.”

Over the last month, the ALP have conducted numerous patrols within the village, repelled insurgent attacks, and prevented civilian casualties by discovering and destroying improvised explosive devices.

A coalition SOF spokesman reported, ALP in northern Afghanistan have repeatedly demonstrated they are capable of providing security for their villages and districts.

In Sayad district, Sar-e-Pul province, ALP defended a checkpoint outside of one their villages from an insurgent attack, Feb. 19.

The 20 insurgents attacked with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, and assault rifles. The ensuing firefight lasted over three hours, ending when the ALP mounted a counterattack and forced the insurgents to flee into the nearby mountains.

“The ALP are well trained and very dedicated to defending their own villages. They are protecting their families and way of life,” said Maj. Marius Williams, TF Balkh operations officer.

Similarly, ALP in Qeysar district, Faryab province, drove off an attack on one of their outposts, Feb. 26.

After being notified that his men were under attack, the ALP commander organized a quick reaction force and rushed to assist his men. Upon arriving, he discovered the small group of ALP had held their ground and forced the insurgents to withdraw. The coalition SOF advisers that provided the training for the ALP praised their performance.

“The ALP that came under attack, reacted exactly how they were trained to handle that type of situation,” said a coalition SOF adviser. “They returned fire, and calmly reported the situation. This type of discipline makes for an effective defensive fighting force.”

In addition to fighting directly against insurgent attacks, ALP also strives to remove the number one threat that endangers Afghan citizens: IEDs. ALP regularly conducts patrols in their assigned areas looking for the telltale signs of the dangerous devices. In Baghlan-e- Jadid district, Baghlan province, a night patrol of ALP came across two shadowy figures in a field. When the ALP challenged them, the individuals ran. When they searched the area, the ALP found 13 mortar rounds that had been modified into IEDs. The ALP secured the devices and turned them over to coalition SOF for safe destruction.

“Who knows how many lives were saved, how many women and children spared serious injury because the ALP recovered these IEDs, before the insurgents could emplace them,” said a coalition SOF adviser.

Local citizens have also begun to demonstrate their trust in the ALP.

Recently, an ALP commander was driving in his personal vehicle in Pul-e-Khumri district, Baghlan province, when a pedestrian flagged him down. The commander stopped, and the man explained that back in his village there was some unexploded ordnance, and he asked the commander if he would remove it because he thought it was dangerous to have in his village.

The commander readily agreed to help the man, but asked the man why he had chosen to flag him down. The man responded that he knew the commander was a member of the ALP, and that they would know what do with UXO.

“Having the ALP in your village is like having your best friend as policeman in your home town,” added the coalition SOF adviser. “You know him; you trust him; and you know he is protecting you, because by protecting you, he protects himself.”