FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
The people of Delaram have felt the effects of war for decades. In spite of the conditions around them, Marines with Regimental Combat Team 8’s Police Advisory Team are working with the Afghan Uniformed Police in Delaram to help refine techniques the police force has learned and develop their professional knowledge as they work together to keep the town safe and free of crime.
Gunnery Sgt. Robert Jacobs, the PAT chief for the Marines at Delaram, said he feels the Marines and AUP have covered a lot of ground, despite some of the inherent challenges of the mission, such as the language barrier and the Afghan people’s mistrust of foreigners.
“It’s been a slow process,” Jacobs said. “You can’t expect to have the job done in a month, and you can’t expect the Afghans to immediately understand everything you try to teach them. By building off of the Police Advisor Teams that came before us, we’ve been able to play a support role and help them help themselves.”
Jacobs and his Marines are helping the Delaram district’s police force take on almost any challenge it might face. Through classes and practical application events, the AUP has begun taking its own steps to smooth out the process of law enforcement and protect Afghan citizens in an effective, self-sufficient way.
“The Marines are still going on patrols and manning posts,” said the Jacksonville, N.C., native, “but there’s almost nothing we do now that the AUP isn’t involved in, in some way, and that’s the objective. They’re the ones who are responsible, and we’re just here to support them.”
The relationship the Marines and AUP have been developing is instrumental in establishing the police as a force of security and protection, Jacobs explained. One of the biggest challenges the Marines face is building up new relationships as new AUP members join or rotate to a new station.
“All of the AUP here are from outside the area, which causes some friction,” said 1st Lt. Phillip Saunders, the officer in charge of the Delaram PAT. “Historically in Afghanistan, it’s hard to trust someone who’s not from the same tribe or area. Most of the friction between the AUP and the citizens in Delaram is caused by the tribalism.”
The Florence, Ky., native said the AUP is working to ensure the relationships built between citizens and the police continue growing as new members join the force. It’s an ongoing project that the AUP and Marines have been tackling together.
“We want to show them we’re here to help them,” Jacobs said. “The AUP recognizes the relationships are important to supporting the long-term goal of creating a police force the public can trust to protect them.”
Between manning posts, patrolling, and the administration and logistics of police work, Jacobs described the Marines’ mission as a demanding and challenging task, but it is a key factor to ensuring an effective AUP security force.
“You can’t have a government without security and vise-versa,” Saunders said. “Long-term, we want Afghans running an Afghan government the Afghan way. Our Marines are doing a great job, and it’s going to take missions like ours to help make that goal a reality.”