Afghan police officers trained by British soldiers have rescued a young boy held hostage by two insurgent kidnappers.
The 13-year-old boy had been snatched nine months previously in Nad ‘Ali district, where he lived in Showal with his father, a civil servant in the district government.
The local British-trained Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) launched a special operation to arrest the two kidnappers and free the boy after receiving intelligence about their location from local villagers.
The District Chief of Police for Nad ‘Ali, Lieutenant Colonel Shadi Khan, who personally oversaw the operation, believes the insurgent kidnappers wished to extort and punish the boy’s father due to his work as a government employee.
Improvements in security throughout the winter in Nad ‘Ali district have seen the British-trained and mentored police providing increasingly effective security, launching operations to protect the local population and driving back insurgent influence in the area. They are also increasingly dealing with more ‘normal crime incidents’, as well as insurgent activity.
In the past, the AUP were a much maligned institution in Helmand, regarded as corrupt and inefficient, but now an increase in formalised training, led by the British Army and other international forces, as well as an uplift in manning and equipment, is paying significant dividends.
Today the AUP is rapidly becoming a trusted and respected force, capable of providing security and community policing to the towns and cities of Helmand.
Leading the training of the police over the last few months has been the Canterbury-based 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS), who are deployed to Helmand as the Police Development Advisory Training Team.
Their focus throughout has been assisting in the recruitment of new police in Helmand, providing recruit training, and mentoring officers in their day-to-day security operations in the key central Helmand districts of Nahr-e Saraj, Nad ‘Ali and Lashkar Gah.
Captain Niall Archibald, 5 SCOTS, said:
The AUP’s action in freeing this kidnap victim demonstrates the high level of professionalism and capability they are now reaching in Helmand. Critically, this operation was conducted completely unassisted by NATO troops.
A key development of late has been increasingly to view insurgent activity as criminal acts rather than acts of war. Viewing them this way puts the emphasis on the Afghan Police to take primacy in the counter-insurgency effort.
As such, crime scene exploitation, evidence-handling and deeper understanding of powers of arrest and detention are now the focus of training for the police, and they are making great progress.
This operation came in the same week that a record number of recruits passed out of the Helmand Police Training Centre. A total of 208 AUP, composed of 167 patrolmen and 41 junior commanders, completed their training and were inspected at the parade by General Hakim Angar, Helmand Chief of Police.
2,430 policemen have now been trained at the Helmand Police Training Centre since its opening in December 2009.