by Lt. Col. Michael Edwards
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
EL PASO, Texas – Borders that surround countries throughout the world are similar in nature. They provide a limit of a specific government’s sovereignty, designate areas where taxes and tariffs may be applied for imports and exports and monitor the entry and exit of citizens from other countries around the globe.
Unfortunately, borders are also major transit areas for illegal commerce such as drug and weapons smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activities.
In a continuing effort to prepare for this summer’s deployment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, sent the Afghan Border Police Security Force Assistance Team to El Paso, Texas, April 4-8 for training with the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector Special Operations Division. Training the Soldiers received will directly correlate to their upcoming mission in Afghanistan. While the United States and Afghanistan borders are different, there are similarities that allowed the SFAT to grasp a better understanding of border operations.
The El Paso Sector Border Patrol provided both classroom and field training. The SFAT senior advisers received training on operations planning, command and control and intelligence sharing within the Department of Homeland Security. There are multiple techniques and procedures that the team will share with the Afghan Border Police to assist in professionalizing their border police force thus extending and legitimizing the reach of the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the population.
“Our leaders’ ability to coach, teach and mentor our Afghan counterparts on border operations has increased exponentially because of this training,” said Maj. Michael Calderon, an SFAT member.
SFAT was provided the opportunity to observe vehicle and personnel entries at the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry. Senior agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided in-depth training on drug smuggling techniques in vehicles of all types.
The port of entry operations were not limited to searches and smuggling. The SFAT received training on international passport standards and techniques for determining counterfeit documents.
The SFAT deployed to the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station, outside El Paso, to learn tactics and techniques from the Special Operations Division for interdicting personnel and illegal drug shipments in rural areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The focus of the training was tracking signs of personnel in daylight and limited visibility. SFAT conducted numerous iterations of tracking as a team in a desert environment. The techniques for acquiring signs and tracking those signs require limited technology and should prove beneficial to the Afghan Border Patrol.
“We can train the Afghans on tracking people because just like our borders, people come across theirs all the time. Additionally, tracking is something that someone who is intelligent but cannot read or write can learn quickly,” said Sgt. Aaron Perkins, SFAT team member.