Afghanistan/UK — Policeman on patrol in Sangin

Roy­al Mil­i­tary Police­man Cor­po­ral Mike Hans­bury is cur­rent­ly deployed to San­gin pro­vid­ing front line polic­ing and foren­sic assis­tance to the Roy­al Marine unit he is attached to.

Patrol Base Pylae
Cor­po­ral Mike Hans­bury (right) and his col­league take up a defen­sive posi­tion along a wall at Patrol Base Pylae dur­ing a con­tact with insur­gents
Source: Cor­po­ral Bar­ry Lloyd, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Cor­po­ral Hans­bury is from 150 Provost Com­pa­ny, 1st Reg­i­ment Roy­al Mil­i­tary Police (RMP). He is cur­rent­ly serv­ing with 8 Troop, 40 Com­man­do Roy­al Marines, in a Patrol Base in the San­gin val­ley.

His role involves him ensur­ing that the recod­ing of infor­ma­tion, ques­tion­ing of indi­vid­u­als and deten­tion of sus­pect­ed Tal­iban fight­ers, is car­ried out in the prop­er man­ner.

It can also involve gath­er­ing evi­dence cor­rect­ly to ensure any legal pro­ceed­ings against an indi­vid­ual are robust and fair, or train­ing oth­er marines how to car­ry out these tasks when a mil­i­tary police per­son is not around.

Most of all, Cpl Hans­bury is anoth­er mem­ber of the unit and car­ries out his RMP duties along with the rest of his patrolling tasks. He said:

“It’s the same role for the RMP through­out Hel­mand province. You’re an extra mem­ber of the patrol but you bring that sub­ject mat­ter knowl­edge – we’re police­men on patrol.

“We know how to detain peo­ple. If we sus­pect some­one of pos­si­bly hav­ing links with the Tal­iban we know the process to go through.

“We’re trained on all weapons sys­tems, we’re all sol­diers…. I’ve got a UGL (under-slung grenade launch­er).

“Obvi­ous­ly being here you have to be fit in the heat with the weight that you’re car­ry­ing going in and out of the wadis and streams…. I can also dri­ve the quad (quad bike). There’s no met­al roads – so it’s up and down through the wadis and stuff which is a bit more fun.”

One of the rou­tine tasks he gets involved with on patrol is vehi­cle check points (VCPs) or ‘snap VCPs’, where there is the ele­ment of sur­prise:

Sangin Valley, Helmand
Roy­al Mil­i­tary Police­man Cor­po­ral Mike Hans­bury is serv­ing with 40 Com­man­do Roy­al Marines in the San­gin Val­ley, Hel­mand
Source: Cor­po­ral Bar­ry Lloyd, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

“As a vehi­cle or per­son comes through who could be a fight­ing age male, we bring them round to have a chat and get some infor­ma­tion off them.

“Basic things such as where they’re from, where they’re going, what they have been doing — so we can get a feel about the atmos­pher­ics of the area. If we pick any­thing up, we can then progress with that,” said Cor­po­ral Hans­bury.

As ISAF adopts a pol­i­cy of ‘coura­geous restraint’ — rather than dam­ag­ing the lives and liveli­hoods of local Afghans through fire pow­er, gain­ing infor­ma­tion about indi­vid­u­als and the local area in this way allows the Tal­iban to be tar­get­ed more direct­ly.

Such ‘polic­ing’ also enables ISAF to inter­act with the pop­u­la­tion on a more reg­u­lar basis. Cpl Hans­bury con­tin­ued:

“Peo­ple are wor­ried about their chil­dren and will vol­un­teer infor­ma­tion. For exam­ple IEDs in the area — they know that ISAF can remove them. Oth­ers can be less so – a bit cagey, but that can give you an insight into where they may have come from and we can delve a bit deep­er and record that infor­ma­tion.”

Day-to-day, Cor­po­ral Hans­bury lives in the patrol base with his Com­man­do col­leagues. He con­clud­ed:

“The Hel­mand Riv­er runs through the com­pound, so we can wash in there, wash clothes in there, and it is just good for cool­ing down in the heat. We have a cook­er, so we take it in turns to cook and clean – again clean­ing in the riv­er. We just live like Afghan’s real­ly.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK