Though taken months ago, these photos -- the above and some of the ones below snapped by the irrepressible and supremely talented Pam Smith -- are screaming to be shared. They are from a sendoff ceremony for a kandak of ANCOP about to deploy to the south. What is that again, you ask?
Afghan National Civil Order Police is an elite police force created to serve as a national asset, on the model of Italy's Carabinieri or France's Gendarmerie...which makes the numerous trainers from those and other countries which field such a force so necessary. Most countries may have a version of it, in fact...a national police force for restoring or preserving order in emergency situations, akin to the way an individual state in the U.S. might ostensibly use its National Guard troops.
ANCOP's mission is to provide civil order presence patrols, prevent violent public incidents, and provide crisis and anti-terror response in urban and metropolitan environments. They have 5 mobile brigades, stationed in the key populations centers of Kabul, Paktia, Kandahar, Helmand and Herat. Most noteworthy thus far have been their deployments to Kandahar, in order to bolster security there in what's been a deteriorating situation.
All has not gone smoothly, of course. ANCOP units have been applauded for the job they've done in some places, and struggled in others. Attrition has been alarmingly high for a number of reasons. But the pride these soldier-policemen display was evident on this day, and the faith put in them to advance respect for Afghanistan's police is significant.
The ANCOP motto is "In Service to the People"...and they better mean it if they seek to win over the population, which has grown accustomed to the corruption too often found in Afghanistan's police forces. Typical of the system is baksheesh, or bribes paid to police officers for simply avoiding arrest, warranted or otherwise. ANCOP officers have a whole lot of the desired security framework of the country riding on their shoulders, as they seek to build a reputation of honest and supportive (yet more lethal) police.
The force is now exchanging the uniforms seen in these pics, the same uniform worn by Afghan police in localities around the country, for more combat-ready digital camouflage fatigues. Here is a story about the roll-out of those unis, and the deployment graced by their debut.
Les Afghans et la Gendarmerie surmontent les obstacles pour construire un centre international
Oh, you can't read le francais either? Quelle honte! You're just not as international as we are at NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. Well, that one is actually about the construction of their regional training center. Here is the one I promised...
Elite Afghan police unit deploys south with new uniforms