Story by: Sgt. Jerry Wilson
CTZ Public Affairs
ZABUL, Afghanistan – Troopers from the 2nd Stryker 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.
Dragoons conduct a six-week long training course for new ANP recruits. Students are 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 are taught room clearing, traffic control point operations and team leading procedures.
This class was the first to include volunteers from the newly established Commerce Stability Program. 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 vowed to support and defend their homes. Due to the predominately male environment at the PTC and the lack of 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.
“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 Adviser 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.”
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 that though they will face many challenges in their careers, these five officers have become a stepping stone towards progress in making Afghanistan a more stable and secure country.
“They give females a voice within the ANP,” Bui said. “They make it more diverse and well-rounded.”
“This is the first step in the right direction,” he said. “With a little more time and cultural adjustment we can make the female presence more acceptable within society here.”