NATO / Afghanistan / Pakistan

NATO, Afghan, Pak­istani Troops Share Work­space to Coor­di­nate Secu­ri­ty

FORWARD OPERATING BASE TORKHAM, Afghanistan, May 29, 2009 — An Afghan Nation­al Army mil­i­tary liai­son offi­cer at the Khy­ber Bor­der Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter receives a phone call; vio­lent extrem­ists are flee­ing from Nan­garhar province across the bor­der into Pakistan’s Peshawar region. The Afghans have to inform the Pak­ista­nis fast if they want to catch them in the act.

What used to take hours now takes sec­onds, as the ANA liai­son walks a few feet to the desks of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Pak­istani mil­i­tary and the Afghan Nation­al Bor­der Police.

Locat­ed just a few miles from the Afghan-Pak­istani bor­der, the KBCC here has brought Pak­istani, Afghan and NATO Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force ser­vice­mem­bers togeth­er to remove the fog of war and to allow instant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coor­di­na­tion among all work­ing to secure the bor­der.

Basi­cal­ly, it removes a lot of links from the chain,” said U.S. Army Capt. David Gray, offi­cer in charge of the KBCC’s ISAF per­son­nel. “Now, you have that face-to-face inter­ac­tion between the dif­fer­ent groups, so it tends to make things run a lot quick­er.”

His­tor­i­cal­ly impor­tant, the Khy­ber Pass is home to Torkham Gate, Afghanistan’s largest offi­cial entrance into the coun­try. More than 40,000 peo­ple can cross through the gate each day, tak­ing advan­tage of the direct route between Islam­abad, Pakistan’s cap­i­tal, and Kab­ul, the cap­i­tal of Afghanistan.

Afghan mil­i­tary mem­bers based at the KBCC say the dif­fi­cult ter­rain along the bor­der had allowed extrem­ists to cross back and forth with lit­tle detec­tion, often attack­ing from one side then flee­ing to the oth­er before the sec­ond coun­try could be informed of the intru­sion.

Now, with the KBCC ful­ly oper­a­tional, the two nations and ISAF are able to coor­di­nate a response togeth­er almost instant­ly.

We’re work­ing close­ly with the Pak­istani and [ISAF per­son­nel],” said Afghan Maj. Moham­mad Shin­war, Afghan Bor­der Police liai­son offi­cer. “If some­thing were to hap­pen at the bor­der, we are going to share with these two par­ties, … and if we have any kind of prob­lem, we will share with them, and the deci­sion will be made by Pak­istan, Afghanistan and [ISAF].”

These three-par­ty deci­sions are see­ing results. Sev­er­al months ago, offi­cials said, extrem­ists attacked Afghan forces in the country’s volatile Kunar province. After receiv­ing reports that the men planned to flee through Torkham Gate into Pak­istan, KBCC per­son­nel coor­di­nat­ed with Afghan and Pak­istani mil­i­tary forces, and the men were appre­hend­ed at the gate.

Our suc­cess­ful coor­di­na­tion here led to their cap­ture,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Craig Snow, the center’s pub­lic affairs offi­cer.

The KBCC is the first of sev­er­al planned coor­di­na­tion cen­ters to be placed along the bor­der.

By Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller
Spe­cial to Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice
(Army Sgt. Matthew C. Moeller serves with the 5th Mobile Pub­lic Affairs Detach­ment.)