Afghan National Police Graduate First Female officers from Police Training Camp

takingaim Afghan National Police Graduate First Female officers from Police Training Camp
Female ANP recruits familiarize themselves with their rifles during weapons training a part of
the basic police training taught at the PTC in Qalat. (Photo by Capt. Vinh Bui)

Guest Post: Regional Command South Public Affairs and Sgt. Jerry Wilson, TF Dragoon/CTZ Public Affairs

ZABUL, Afghanistan- Soldiers from the 2ndStryker Cavalry Regiment working alongside their Afghan National Police partners at the Police Training Center in Qalat started the New Year right Monday, Jan 3 by graduating a class of 134 new recruits. Class 1101 had the distinction of not only being the first class of 2011, but also the first class to include volunteers from the Commerce Stability Program and five female recruits.

The CSP is a village-level security program similar to a neighborhood watch. The program hires men from each village and pays them to man observation posts alongside ANP officers. In addition to the CSP, class 1101 also included the first female candidates to be inducted within the Zabul Province.

Five courageous women stepped up and despite fear of retribution toward their families and vowed to support and defend their homes. Due to the predominately male environment at the PTC and the lack of the women instructors, the female recruits were unable to engage in many of the practical exercises with the men. To compensate for this, the female recruits were given a more extensive overview of procedures during their classroom training.

Dragoons conduct a six-week long training course where students were taught techniques and law enforcement skills that will help them in their mission to provide security and stability to the citizens of Zabul Province. The training is separated into classroom and hands on exercises. Instructors teach basic skills like weapons handling, weapons maintenance and first aid. In addition, recruits were also taught room clearing, traffic control point operations and team leading procedures.

“They went through the basic classroom training such as first aid, the constitution, tactics and techniques, checkpoint operations and security operations,” said Capt. Vinh Bui, the Provincial Logistical Advisor for PTC. “They also went to the range and qualified with both rifle and pistol.”

“The intent is for them to have a basic understanding as police officers,” Bui explained, “what they need to know, in order to influence the locals as well as be effective members of the force.”

takingaimgrad Afghan National Police Graduate First Female officers from Police Training Camp
Graduation Day: A female ANP officer receives her diploma upon completion of the basic
Police training course . (Photo by Sgt. Jerry Wilson)

Bui stated that graduating these women from the program is a great step towards progress in Zabul and they will face many restrictions due to the current cultural standards.

“Because they are female,” Bui said, “there will always be a fear of retribution towards their families so they will always be covered up.” Bui stated that wearing the full traditional burka, female officers will not be as intimidating as their male counterparts wearing their body armor and weapons.

Bui did state they will face many challenges in their careers, these five officers have essentially contributed towards a mile-stone in progress resulting in a more stable secure and diverse Afghanistan.

“They give females a voice within the ANP,” Bui said. “They make it more diverse and well- rounded.”

101st Combat Aviation Brigade Armament Soldier Sets the Standard

sgn101 101st Combat Aviation Brigade Armament Soldier Sets the Standard

Guest post and photos by Army Spc. Jennifer Spradlin, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MULTI NATIONAL BASE TARIN KOT, Afghanistan – For many Soldiers, the iconic sound of helicopters in flight, a kind of background soundtrack to their lives, is synonymous with being deployed.

During the last nine months at Multi National Base Tarin Kot, Afghanistan, Spc. Jessica Newton has remained a fixture on the flight line as an armament specialist with D Company, Task Force No Mercy. The daily opportunity to work with helicopters has only increased her respect and interest in the aircraft.

“I enjoy mechanics and the way things work. The fact that we can make something out of nothing,” said Newton, an Orange Park, Fla., native. “When I joined the Army, I knew I wanted to work with rotary wing aircraft. I wanted to be a part of aviation.”

The TF No Mercy flight line is a lesson in controlled chaos, involving a continuous cycle of Soldiers, helicopters, missions and repairs. Even when parked and silent, the aerodynamic design of the AH-64D Apache Longbow gives off the impression of motion. The Apache helicopter is the Army’s premier attack helicopter, equipped with Hellfire missiles, 2.75 inch rockets and a 30-mm machine gun. It is the ultimate ally to ground forces.

As an armament technician, Newton is responsible for a variety of maintenance related tasks on the Apache helicopter to include: loading and unloading aircraft ammunitions, aircraft communications, aircraft sighting systems, and aircraft electrical wiring.

In her late twenties, Newton said she tried working civilian jobs prior to joining the Army, but found them monotonous and unfulfilling. Newton knew she wanted to be a part of a team.

“With the Army, you have a drive that you are doing something for the people around you,” said Newton. “I know I am in Afghanistan, but being with my shop and my unit is like a home away from home. When you are down, they’ll drive you. They won’t let you fall back, and that’s awesome.”

Newton’s quiet, Southern drawl belies the fact that she is a determined, hard-worker, but the unit’s leadership notices her constant desire to learn and advance in her career field.

“I’ve worked with Newton for about a year now. She’s one of the quickest learners that we’ve had,” said Staff Sgt. Dean Hess, senior armament maintenance supervisor, D Co., TF No Mercy.
Hess previously deployed to Iraq and is on his second deployment to Afghanistan. He said each Soldier has different qualities and it is the role of a non-commissioned officer to bring out the best in them.

“One of the things I am looking for in a good Soldier is one who pays attention to their job and knows their job. With our job, every repair that we do on an aircraft, the pilots’ lives are at stake. Newton is very dependable,” said Hess, a Clearwater, Fla., native .

Newton said her ultimate goal was to apply for acceptance into the Warrant Officer Course in order to become a helicopter pilot, but until then, she is more than happy working with her hands and making sure everything is done right to make the mission happen.

“If we aren’t doing our job, [pilots] can’t do their job, and if they can’t do their job, they aren’t helping the Soldiers on the ground. That’s why it’s important that we are always striving to get better and learn more,” said Newton.

Video: Obama Accepts McChrystal’s Resignation – Petraeus Takes Over

No surprises here:

President Barack Obama accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal “with considerable regret” and nominated Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command. The moves come in the wake of the revelation that Rolling Stone magazine would publish politically explosive remarks made by the general and his aides about key administration officials.

While it’s hard to argue with McChrystal’s reported positions on his civilian leaders it’s also hard to argue that the behavior captured in the Rolling Stone piece is acceptable. This is an unfortunate end to an honorable career.