MARJAH DISTRICT, Afghanistan --
The role of Regimental Combat Team 5 Police Advisory Team has shifted since Marines first arrived in Marjah in 2010.
Marines used to lead Afghan Uniformed Police and Afghan Local Police in patrols, mentoring them and taking charge in tactical operations. Now, Afghans are taking the lead.
Sergeant Timothy Guinan, military police chief for the PAT, said Afghan forces have become more self-sufficient since he arrived in Marjah in August 2011, allowing Marines to step back and take an advisory role.
“When I first got here the Afghan police would go to the first Marine post they saw to get the Marines to help with whatever they needed,” said Guinan, a native of Mason, Pa. “Now we are constantly getting reports from their operations center letting us know what is going on.”
Lance Cpl. Niko Azucenas, a police advisor, said the Afghan Uniform and Local Police officers are capable of conducting police operations on their own.
“The Marines’ role in partnered operations with the Afghan Police is pretty much just to be there for support,” he said. “We just let them do what they need to do in their own police work. We are just there to advise.”
The PAT has been dedicated to training the police in Marjah to become self-sufficient.
Azucenas and other members of the advisory team spent four days instructing refresher courses to AUP and ALP officers at several patrol bases throughout the city of Marjah Feb. 24 to 27.
“For the past few days we have been teaching vehicle check point procedures, escalation of force procedures at a vehicle check point, and tactical questioning,” Azucenas said.
The Marines gave lectures, took questions and used makeshift models to instruct the police on a variety of topics.
“They’re police. They need to know how to do those things so that they can respond and help the local people and help their community,” said Guinan.
EDITORS NOTE: Lance Cpl. Niko Azucenas was promoted to the rank of Corporal March 1, 2012. Regimental Combat Team 5 is a part of Task Force Leatherneck. First Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest), and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.