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Graduating ANP officers prepare for the fight ahead

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A group of 69 newly-appointed Afghan National Police officers joined the fight for Afghanistan as they marked the end of six months of training with a ceremony Thursday.

The former cadets were students of the Kandahar Training Center on Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan. Their graduation comes at a pivotal point as NATO looks to end combat operations in the country at the end of 2014.

The officers will be responsible for leading Afghan national policemen and women in daily policing operations throughout the Kandahar province.

“This is my promise [to you],” said Afghan National Police Brig. Gen. Nasrullah Zarefi, who serves at the Regional Training Center-Kandahar commander, to the class of graduating cadets. “We have trained you well [and] you will help to secure Afghanistan and bring peace to our people.”

The graduating class originally had 70 students, but one was killed by the Taliban during Ramadan, a period of fasting and reflection in the Islamic faith, when a bus he was on was stopped by Taliban fighters at an illegal checkpoint.

“There are only 69 students here today,” said Zarefi. He went onto describe the important role each of the graduates will play in ensuring such attacks do not occur.

“[When] Gen. Razziq was attacked and injured [by the Taliban], I went to him,” said Zarefi referring to the recent failed assassination on the Kandahar Provincial Security Commander, Brig. Gen. Abdul Razziq. “I promised him we would keep Kandahar province safe and secure for the people and you will help me to keep that promise.”

Col. Christopher Reed, who works directly with Zarefi as the commander of Regional Support Command, which works closely with the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, addressed the graduating class as well.

“Today is the day you become leaders in the defense of your country,” said Reed. “Gen Zarefi is proud of you. I am proud of you; the Afghan people are proud of you, but most importantly you should be proud of yourselves.”

The NATO training mission in Afghanistan is at the cornerstone of a transition effort designed to get Afghan forces to the point where they can assume responsibility for the security of the war-torn country.

This transition has occurred in several districts in Kandahar province as ISAF picks up a supporting role and allows the Afghan forces to assume the brunt of the fighting.

“With increased position comes increased responsibility,” added Reed. “You are now a leader and a teacher; it is a great honor and privilege to lead your country-men into battle.”

Article by Staff Sgt. Bryan Dominique, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division