KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Naqeebullah, an Afghan National Policeman, laughs nervously as a needle hovers over his arm. His partner, a fellow Afghan police officer, laughs too, as he prepares to administer the syringe.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Reyes, a corpsman with Marine Attack Squadron 513, laughs with them, but he’s serious about the Afghan policemen’s performance. What the officers learn today will shape what they teach others in the future.
Reyes, of Tucson, Ariz., along with Petty Officer 1st Class Angelo Catindig, a corpsman with VMA-513 and Chula Vista, Calif., native, offered their assistance in an Afghan-led medical course from June 25 through July 14, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The course covered first aid procedures such as CPR, hemorrhage treatment, and preparing and administering injections and intravenous needles. NATO International Security Assistance Force troops offered real world experience and technical support for the course.
“This is the first of this kind because it’s taught by Afghans, not by ISAF,” explained U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Norman McAfee, the 10th Mountain Division surgeon’s office plans officer, and an Albany, N.Y., native.
McAfee said the purpose of the course is to train the Afghan troops in how to train other Afghans. The program began when Afghanistan’s surgeon general approached NATO forces about educating policemen on first aid.
The curriculum created by the collaboration is an abbreviated form of the one used by the Army Medical Department, headquartered at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The first class had 16 graduating students. The current course saw nearly twice that number, and the third class, beginning in September, is scheduled to have 35 students, 20 of which are fresh from the Afghan National Police academy.
“We’ve evolved from being just local to getting recruits straight out of school,” said McAfee. “We want it to grow, and that’s exactly what it’s doing.”
Afghan field medic Ramatullah, with the 2nd Brigade of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, was an instructor for the course.
“I want to help the Afghan people as an instructor,” he said. “The main goal for the future is that they have to help the police. Right now they don’t have enough medics. And because of that they’re losing people.”
Ramatullah, who said he has 18 months experience as a medic, acknowledges the necessity of having a well-trained police force as Afghan forces transition to taking a larger role in the nation’s stability.
Course instructors and students include members of the Afghan Border Patrol and the Afghan National Civil Order Police, both agencies which fall under the Afghan National Police. Graduates with the highest test scores are selected to attend physician’s assistant school.
“I don’t think most of these guys ever thought they were going to do this in their life,” said Catindig. “And now some of them are going to go off and be physician’s assistants.”