View Full Version : Hastily trained Afghan teens to stand guard for Canadians

18 Oct 06,, 03:44
Hastily trained Afghan teens to stand guard for Canadians


CanWest News Service
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Canadian troops building and guarding a road where six soldiers have died in 16 days will soon receive help in policing the treacherous region: local teenagers armed with AK-47s and only 10 days of training.

The new auxiliary force is being thrown together to aid with security in Kandahar province and other troubled spots in southern Afghanistan.

NATO had resisted taking this route, preferring to focus on recruiting and training police officers, Canada's Colonel Gary Stafford said.

But poor recruitment and escalating attacks from insurgents have left them with little choice but to try the government's plan, he said.

"The Afghan government requested that we expedite and get individuals into high-risk areas," said Stafford, NATO's regional police adviser for southern Afghanistan.

"Normally, to become a policeman, it's going to take nine to 10 weeks of training ... but because there is such a need for these young men, they have decided to provide them with a 10-day training program."

The move to establish an auxiliary force highlights the state of policing in southern Afghanistan. It's in disrepair, leaps and bounds behind the Afghan national army.

Stafford estimates there are 1,600 police officers in Kandahar province, but most of them are part of a militia that answers to the governor.

Canadian soldiers are getting a first-hand look at the militia's work.

About 80 of them were brought to the Pashmul area nearly two weeks ago to help watch for insurgents laying explosives on roads or plotting ambushes.

The trial hasn't gone well.

Most, if not all, were asleep at their posts when Canadian soldiers recently dropped by to inspect. When they were awake, some had errantly fired their rifles in the direction of the Canadians.

"Randomly throughout the night, there were shots going over our heads," recounted Warrant Officer Michael Jackson of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man.

"We knew it was them, but they said, 'No, no, it wasn't us shooting.' "

Despite the shaky start and the continuing problems, Jackson said, the officers are needed.

"If we have to watch all of the other routes, we can't do our job," he said. "They just have to send someone out there to make sure they are doing their job."

District police commanders will be responsible for the auxiliary force, Stafford said, but it's too soon to tell how large it will become. Afghan government officials have been meeting with village elders to identify locals to join the force.

The measure, NATO hopes, is only an interim one. Bolstering the Afghan police is still the priority, Stafford said.

Several obstacles have stalled police recruitment.

Police salaries are low, about $80 a month, far less than the wages foreign organizations pay skilled local workers. The job is also risky, particularly in southern Afghanistan.

Sunday marked the first day of class for 100 auxiliary recruits in Kandahar province.

After spending 10 days learning the basics of law, security tactics and how to use an AK-47, they will be deployed to the same treacherous region where Canadian soldiers Sgt. Darcy Tedford and Pte. Blake Williamson died in an ambush Saturday.

The four-kilometre stretch goes through the centre of Pashmul, a longtime Taliban stronghold.

For security reasons, the Canadian battle group pushed ahead with building the road between Zhari and Panjwaii districts. The soldiers' work is nearly done, battle commander Lt.-Col. Omer Lavoie said.

Paving by contractors is the next step. The project could be done within a month.

The Gazette (Montreal) 2006

18 Oct 06,, 03:50
Ten days is an awefully short screening time.

18 Oct 06,, 16:51
Just the cut and paste job that must be avoided.

These teens with ridiculously short training will merely die. Their weapon will be stolen by those attacking them and will add to the terrorists armoury.

The parents will grieve and blame the West.

More terrorists will be spawned!

18 Oct 06,, 19:10
These youngsters probably aren't going to last long.

If they don't join the other team!

19 Oct 06,, 02:07
It seems odd to me that this is happening if we are supposedly "in control". Looks more like an act of desperation.

Officer of Engineers
19 Oct 06,, 03:14
10 weeks is short! The strategy here is to strip the Taleban of its recruits. You think 10 days is short? How about 10 minutes? That's the Taliban's recruite training.