Page 91 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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  Afghan Special Police Training
Teams 6 and 7 along with Coy HQ deployed to Afghanistan in January to take over the good work that had been done by R and A Coy before them. Located near the Northern city of Mazar-e Sharif the Special Police Advanced Training Wing (SPATW) acts as a training centre for the National Mission Units (NMUs). These police units are a Police Special Forces/SWAT hybrid and have proved extremely successful over the past 10-15 years in the fight against the insurgent threats. So much so that back in 2016 the President of Afghanistan announced the need for the current NMUs to double in size. Hence, 4 RIFLES were given the task to assist in the production of the new units. B Coy took over the task from R Coy in January 2019 and have been involved in the training of the second and third squadrons for the new NMUs.
Each course lasts six months with the students progressing from covering basic skills such as navigation and medical training, through phases such as live firing and CQB, before a mission specific test package to finish with. The aim of the course is to produce Squadrons who are able to plan and conduct independent strike operations as soon as they graduate from SPATW. Indeed, on the second course the squadrons were called into action even before they had finished the final test exercise! With an insurgent crisis developing in downtown Mazar-e Sharif, they were called upon to assist and ended up clearing through several buildings, detaining a handful of terrorists and only taking one minor casualty due to frag from an RPG. It certainly gave legitimacy to the training and meaning to their graduation!
It is extremely useful to be able to get real time-feedback from the Squadrons that have graduated on the first two courses and who are now conducting operations on a regular basis. Being able to see the impact of efforts previously put in on
earlier courses is enormously satisfying and brings an understanding of the relevance and importance of the mission.
For most of the riflemen, one of the most inter- esting aspects of the task has been the multina- tional feel; with NATO partners from Italy, Romania, Germany and the Netherlands all contributing to the task as well as contractors from the US. Working day in and out alongside these brothers-in-arms, as well as the Afghan instructors, has resulted in real lifelong friendships forming.
An eight-month tour is a long time away from home, but it has been a great mission of which to be a part. While Team 6 and Coy HQ did the whole 8 months, Teams 5 and 7 shared the load, swapping mid tour. Even elements of Team 8 managed to get out for a short stint, using their time productively whilst waiting to deploy to Iraq.
Capt Mark Topham
   Sjt ‘Jock’ Zareh overseeing the pistol range
     Sjt ‘Jock’ Zareh discussing the best bicep curl technique with the Afghans
     ...BUT, IT HAS BEEN

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