LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan -- The Afghan National Civil Order Police’s 5th Brigade officially took control of its own command during a stand-up ceremony in the Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, July 25.
The ANCOP is an elite police force that conducts counterinsurgency and public order operations throughout the country to support a safe and secure environment for the people of Afghanistan.
The ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest and II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), Helmand Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal, and several coalition and Afghan National Security Forces commanders.
“The ANCOP standup is significant because it allows them to perform the operations they need to do for themselves,” said Maj. Louis E. Isabelle, ANCOP 5th Brigade mentor team leader, and a Woodward, Pa., native.“Being in command of their own operations allows the ANCOP in Lashkar Gah to be able to make feasible plans and execute them.”
The ANCOP personnel are enthusiastic about being in control of their own operations.
“This ceremony is important for the pride of our command,” said Col. Ghulam Sakhi, the brigade’s commanding officer. “It is our duty to take full responsibility for the security of the region, and this ceremony is the beginning of that. My entire staff and the police officers feel a lot of pride for fulfilling this role and look forward to completing our mission.”
Sakhi said he is confident the ANCOP will help increase security in Helmand province.
“The people of Helmand province trust the ANCOP and will talk to them,” he explained. “The ANCOP have earned the peoples’ trust through their professionalism. The ANCOP have built a strong relationship with the people of Helmand province.”
Before the standup ceremony, ANCOP mentor teams composed of coalition forces directed many of the day-to-day security operations the brigade performed.
“The ANCOP are similar to a paramilitary force, used to augment the security of the population that the Afghan National Police provide,” said Capt. Ray Stone, operations officer for the ANCOP 5th Brigade mentor team, and a Pana, Ill., native. “They’re like a bridge between the Afghan Uniform Police and the Afghan National Army.”
The mentor team leadership is impressed with the work ethic of the 5th Brigade, he added.
“The ANCOPs have the best, most disciplined personnel,” said Stone. “They all have a lot of enthusiasm for the skills they learn. The ANCOPs are hardworking, generous and dedicated soldiers.”
The ANCOP 5th Brigade mostly come from Dari-speaking tribes in northern Afghanistan, but will work exclusively in Lashkar Gah, a predominantly Pashto area. To help ease the cultural transition the brigade will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
“Having them work exclusively in Lashkar Gah allows them to get assimilated with the local population,” said Stone. “The better they get to learn the people, the more effective they can police them.”
The ANCOP standup demonstrates the commitment of ANSF to taking responsibility for the security of Afghanistan, said Isabelle.
“We’ve been mentoring the 5th Brigade since they were only one battalion,” said Isabelle. “Now they are a full brigade and still adding new personnel. The ANCOP soldiers do not sit around. They are very proactive and like to take action. It’s encouraging to see how far they’ve come and we look forward to working with them as partners.”