Soldier is training up anti-terrorist police force in Afghanistan

Private Rhys Crook
Private Rhys Crook

A SOLDIER from Hastings is training an elite police team in Afghanistan set up to respond to terrorist attacks.

Private Rhys Crook has been deployed to Helmand province in the war-torn country as part to the Police Mentoring and Advisory Group (PMAG), headed by the 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1PWRR).

The group provides a mentoring team to the Afghan Civil Order Police (ANCOP), a highly-trained unit which specialises in responding to high-threat incidents.

Rhys, 25, and a former student from William Parker Sports College, has been in Afghanistan for almost a month.

He is training ANCOP officers of the Special Support Kandak (the Afghan equivalent of a British Army battalion of 700 personnel) on heavy weapons.

Rhys said: “The language barrier is obviously a challenge, and when we are working them we have to speak through an interpreter most of the time, but everyone is picking up a little Pashto now, enough to say hello. Some of them seen quite young to hold the rank they have, but they are quite friendly and we’ve had a few games of football with them in the afternoons to get to know them a bit better.

“We’ve also sat down and had chai with them a few times. I’ve got to say I don’t really like it, but you have to drink it to be polite.”

Rhys has previously served in Iraq in his four years with the Army.

He said: “With the training the ANCOP is getting it will make a big difference out here. You need a professional force like this to respond to certain situations, and these guys are going to be the best out there.”

He will spend the next six months training and developing the ANCOP before returning to Hastings.

The war in Afghanistan started in October 2001 and since then around 9,500 British soldiers have been deployed there.