News story

Defence police leave Helmand stronger

The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) mentoring team has left Afghanistan for the last time.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Afghan Uniform Police recruits on parade at the opening of the Lashkar Gah Training Centre's new complex (library image) [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]
Afghan Uniform Police recruits on parade (library image)

The MDP has had a continuous presence in Helmand province since January 2008, sending more than 200 officers from across its ranks to train and develop the Afghan National Police (ANP) Force.

Now, with the Afghans having taken the lead for delivering training to their own recruits, the MDP is stepping back.

Police mentor Melvin Goudie, who had previously worked in Kosovo and Iraq before completing three 6-month tours in Afghanistan, said:

It’s been an amazing change. When I think back, 2008 and 2009 were extremely kinetic years.

We were forward with our military colleagues in places like Sangin, and we were volunteers, so those MDP guys out there deserve a lot of credit for establishing a functional policing service. It wasn’t perfect, but something which could go forward.

Melvin Goudie
Police mentor Melvin Goudie in his office in Lashkar Gah [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

MDP officers worked alongside military colleagues, often away in forward locations such as Lashkar Gah, Babaji and Kandahar, to jointly engage in training and mentoring the ANP.

Mr Goudie said:

The Ministry of Defence approached our Chief Constable in 2007 because there was a need to move from a purely military mission to a policing and military mission.

The mission has been constant but at the start we were very hands on; we were training and looking after the district chiefs of police and their deputies. We were running the courses and delivering their training programmes. It then gradually reduced to a mentoring and monitoring role.

A lasting legacy

Last month, police training in central Helmand passed a significant milestone with the opening of a new $11.3 million complex at the Lashkar Gah Training Centre (LTC), complete with new accommodation and training areas.

Since 2009, more than 6,000 Afghan policemen and policewomen of the Afghan Uniform Police and local and border police forces have graduated from the LTC. The training centre offers Afghan-led courses as diverse as counter-improvised explosive device training to first aid and IT skills.

The opening of the new complex at Lashkar Gah Training Centre
The opening of the new complex at Lashkar Gah Training Centre (library image) [Picture: Corporal Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

The new complex, funded by the British and Danish governments, enables the Afghan Ministry of Interior to teach further specialist courses and boosts the number of students that can be enrolled.

Mr Goudie said:

Undoubtedly the big legacy is the Lashkar Gah Training Centre. The fact that we took it from being a very decrepit tented village in very old military winter tents to what you can see now, modern, professional facilities, that’s the legacy.

Published 21 October 2013