Afghan National Police officers recently graduated from a five-week weapons maintenance class at the ANP Provincial Police Headquarters here.
Once back at their precincts the officers will be able to act as first-line maintainers on the weapons the ANP patrolmen carry out in the field, explained Cartagena, a logistics adviser with the Regional Logistics Center, Regional Support Command-Southwest.
“The personnel trained on this course will be able to troubleshoot, identify and attempt to repair any minor issues, jams or misfeeds from any small arms weapon before requesting maintenance support outside of their precinct,” Cartagena said.
If the ANP find they can’t fix a particular weapon, they’ll submit the right paperwork and send it to the contracted weapons maintenance shop at the PHQ, he explained.
The role of weapons maintainer at the precinct will be a secondary duty, Cartagena said.
“They are the primary armory personnel who can teach the policemen from their Districts to properly operate and maintain their own assigned weapon,” he said.
Hamidullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name, was the course’s chief weapons maintenance expert. This class was his second at the PHQ. He retired two years ago after serving in the Afghan military for 25 years, he said.
One morning in November the students were clustered around an AK-47 rifle, working on a trigger assembly. The weapon’s bolt and some tools were on the table as the students worked to remove a broken spring.
After a few minutes, an assistant instructor fixed the spring and put the rifle back together. Hamidullah then did a quick functions check to make sure the weapon worked properly.
More classes like this are planned, and the training will benefit the ANP in the future, said Cartagena.
“This training will benefit the ANP on their weapons readiness and police officers knowledge and fighting skills to defend their country more effectively,” he said.
But it wasn’t just the students who learned during the class. Cartagena would stop by during breaks to talk with Hamidullah about weapons. The adviser said the old retired colonel – whose favorite was the Russian-made PKM medium machine gun – said something that really made him think: "You can engage and kill the enemy only with one bullet if your weapon is zeroed versus spending lots of rounds with a weapon that is out of tolerance."
“(The ANP) should know their responsibilities, they should know how to use the weapon,” Hamidullah said through a translator. “What’s the weapon for? The weapon is for security of themselves, to defeat the enemy.”
Article by Bill Putnam, Regional Support, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan / Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan