CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Sgt. Wali Jan loves his rifle and he plans on using it.
Wali Jan has been serving in the Afghan Border Police for the past five years and is currently enrolled in the non-commissioned officer’s course at the Joint Security Academy Southwest here.
Wali Jan was one of the first students to arrive at the course and showed an eagerness to begin his training.
“He sat around for about a week … and he would ask me, ‘When are the other students coming?’” said 1st Lt. Timothy Malone, a native of Glen Burnie, Md., and ANSF Training Team OIC. “He really wanted to train. He’s always excited about what we’re going to be training for, and he tries as hard as he can with everything that we do.”
Growing up in Lashkar Gah, Wali Jan was forbidden by the Taliban to attend school. The only education he has ever received has been military training. Wali Jan credits his instructors with helping him learn his job.
“Marines are our teachers – they show us how to protect our country,” said Wali Jan. “I have learned a lot. I can save lives now.”
Wali Jan has been working with Marines since he enlisted in the border patrol, but he says the day is coming when he won’t need their help.
“All of our missions are with the Marines,” he said. “We go out with them, but we can still accomplish our mission even if they are not with us.”
Working without the assistance of Marines wouldn’t surprise any of his instructors. They have seen him taking the initiative and standing out among his peers since he arrived.
“He’s not really afraid to take charge,” said Cpl. Justin Ellis, a JSAS instructor and native of Cantonment, Fla. “Most of the other guys are somewhat quiet – just trying to find their place. Wali Jan wasn’t afraid to say, ‘Hey let’s go do this!’ [He] keeps most people in line.”
Despite his abilities to take charge, Wali Jan doesn’t consider his classmates his fellow soldiers. He calls them his brothers.
“He never argues with anyone,” said Sgt. Rhamatullah, a fellow student in the NCO course. “He tries to have fun with everyone. Wali Jan is a good man. We have never seen him do anything bad.”
Wali Jan and many of his ABP brothers have suffered at the hands of the insurgents, but his real brother was killed while fighting against them.
“He was killed by the Taliban while on a mission. He was a policeman too. God bless him,” said Wali Jan.
“The Taliban destroy our country. They are bad. We fight against them to bring peace and prosperity to our people.”
He even survived a close call himself.
“I once stepped on a landmine,” said Wali Jan. “I jumped off of it and it exploded. God saved my life.”
Wali Jan understands why he is here and that the responsibility of defending his nation rests on the shoulders of men like him.
“I serve to protect my country, my people and myself,” he said. “This is my country. If I don’t help my country, who is going to help it?”