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Kiwi troops in demand for training in Afghanistan

Published: 7:01PM Wednesday July 21, 2010 Source: ONE News

Afghan authorities say they will need New Zealand's help in Bamyan for up to five more years.

Training the national police to take over security in the province is now the number one priority for the New Zealand Defence Force and police as they start contemplating their departure.

Currently, the Afghan National Police (ANP) in Bamyan are juggling roles as it is one of the few provinces without an Afghan army base.

The New Zealand Army and police have combined forces to train the locals, however both face the same frustrations with the fledgling force.

"They still require a lot of work," said Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, patrol commander.

"For police - they're not like the police back home. They don't go around really arresting people, they're basically security guards. But it's our job to build up their capacity and develop them so one day when we pull out, they'll be capable of taking over."

Local police agree that it is a long road ahead with training.

"We need lots of help ... It takes a long time, maybe two or three years, to train the ANP," said Captain Haji Ahmad-Kahmard, of Bamyan District Police.

Most members of the ANP have seen enough fighting over the years to be experienced in the battlefield, but unfortunately their weapons are old and taped together. Little ammunition is carried by the local police, and general maintenance of the weapons is also an issue.

Bamyan's governor Habira Sarabi accepts that a lack of resources and corruption are holding back the local police but says what is really needed is more training, as officers can be on the beat just four months after signing up.

New Zealand's current mandate ends in September 2011 and it will be extended by another 12 months. A complete withdrawal is still not in sight.

ONE News reporter Michael Parkin travelled to Afghanistan as part of the ONE News Tour of Duty series about New Zealand soldiers in Afghanistan.