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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Kabul Knights discover rival club....

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Meet Afghanistan's Motorcycle Police, the U.S. Military's Newest Weapon Against Taliban Insurgents

By Anna Mulrine
GHAZNI, Afghanistan—The newest weapon in the U.S. military's fight against the Taliban here is the country's first unit of motorcycle-riding Afghan police, trained and mentored by an Army captain with the help of a biker bar owner and Harley devotee from Washington state.

After soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment killed three Taliban insurgents on motorbikes last month, they considered selling off the bikes to supplement the salaries of the poorly paid local police.

Then they had another idea. "We were sitting around talking one night and thought, 'Hey, maybe the Afghan police can use these things,'" says Lt. Col. Tony DeMartino, the battalion's commander.

The Afghan police agreed. During joint operations, the Taliban have little trouble spotting, not to mention hearing, large U.S. military vehicles rumbling toward small villages. That allows the guerrillas time to escape on motorbikes.

U.S. troops recently watched what turned out to be a high-value Taliban target flee on a bike during an operation. Uncertain of his identity, the soldiers didn't shoot. Chasing him down through narrow back roads in a heavy Humvee, they add, would have been impossible.

In these situations, U.S. military helicopter assistance can be helpful, but troops note that such support is in high demand and short supply throughout the country. But Afghan police on motorbikes could conceivably be a solution.

In the months since, the motorcycle unit has proved highly effective in supplementing U.S. operations in the area and surprising insurgents.
posted by Travis, 12:12 am

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