10 Photos Of A Marine’s Experience Training Afghan Police


In 2010, after more than nine years of service, David Anderson’s Marine Corps contract ended. He looked into transitioning into the intel field or returning to college to finish his degree.

A few months later, he learned that 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines was being activated for operations in Afghanistan. They were to provide security at Camp Leatherneck and at combat outposts in Helmand. Anderson re-enlisted and joined weapons company as a platoon sergeant. However, he was selected to split away from the main body to join the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and was sent with a team of 13 Marines to a small outpost academy in Herat province. There he worked with Italian Carabinieri and Afghan instructors and staff to train Afghan National Civil Order Police cadets and prepare them for roles in riot control, paramilitary response teams, and as police sergeants.

This is his story.

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February 2011. Security position overlook the academy at Adraskan. The environment outside the compound was austere, high desert plains midway between the central mountains and the Iranian border.

March 2011. Our team of 13 Marines were a small contingent at the compound. There were several Polish military police, around 60 Italian Carabinieri, and the Afghan cadre of instructors who did the bulk of the police training while we focused on basic combat skills while also supporting the other classes.

April 2011. Weather was variable. In March and April, we would go from 85-degree days to this in the span of a week. These were the buildings that the Marines and Polish instructors lived in, the Carabinieri having their own walled off area adjacent to it. Over the barriers on the left were cadet housing and a snowball fight erupted over the fence.

May 2011. At their graduations, the ANCOP cadets would demonstrate a riot-control scenario in addition to driving, martial arts, and arrest procedures. The cadets were immediately promoted to sergeants on graduation and were expected to be able to serve as crowd control, SWAT, desk sergeants, and as surge capacity to trouble areas.

Summer 2011. ANCOP cadets learned basic shooting form and stances before being allowed to live fire on the range. When we arrived, the cadets were shooting rifles at distances only up to 40 meters, and we worked to up the curriculum to include distances out to 100 meters and incorporate basic movement and cover tactics. This took a lot of time.

Summer 2011. In addition to the cadets, the Marines also trained the local security forces, personnel security details, and patrol officers. We were a mix of infantry, communications, and other military occupations, but even the basic Marine combat skills instruction were in high demand.

Summer 2011. We would get outside the compound to do local security patrols with local Afghan police and also to set up ranges for machine guns and RPG instruction. We trained, primarily, the Afghan instructors with the intent that they would bring their best shooting cadets outside for more advanced instruction.

July 2011. Two of the best guys I worked with in Afghanistan were our interpreters. They worked extremely hard to help us with day-to-day work and they were our main go-betweens with the Afghan cadre staff and leadership. Our job would have been impossible without them. I was really happy when they were both able to make it out of Afghanistan, and knowing them has made me care a lot more about the plight of the many interpreters and other personnel that have been left behind in bad situations.

Related: A Grunt’s Iraq Tour In 10 Photos »

July 2011. We managed to relax in the evenings and had a fair amount of downtime, if nowhere to go. Gas-mask ping pong was a favorite. We played football on the helipad. We also held movie nights for the Afghan cadets, using a projector and speakers jury rigged to a truck for power and projecting on the side of the white-painted chow hall.

August 2011. Flying away from the Adraskan valley and back to Herat to wait for another flight to Kabul and home.

Email us your deployment photos with a short description to be featured on our Instagram @MyDeployment.

An Austrian Jagdkommando K9 unit conducts training (Austrian Armed Forces photo)

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Photo: ABC News/screenshot

Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.

"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."

Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

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