HERAT -- The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) are ready to start recruiting Afghan Local Police (ALP) members in the country's western provinces to ensure continued security in the fight against terrorism, officials say.
The ALP was established in 2010 to defend against the Taliban at the village level.
In the subsequent years, the ALP -- with support from NATO -- fought on the front lines against the Taliban, the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and other enemies of Afghanistan alongside other branches of the ANDSF.
Recognising the ALP's key role in suppressing the Taliban, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) are hiring many former ALP members.
ALP 'warmly' welcomed
The ANA's recruitment centre is ready to begin the process of registering and training ALP soldiers, said Maj. Gen. Abdul Raof Arghandiwal, commander of the 207th Zafar Corps.
"All preparations to integrate the Local Police into the structure of the Local Army have been made," he said. "Local Police soldiers in all western provinces may go to the ANA recruitment centres and join the ANA and the Local Army."
"The Local Police have been fighting against terrorists for years and have gained good experience," he said. "They have high military capabilities, but they will still receive training after being recruited into the ANA and Local Army and will be provided with advanced and necessary weapons."
With the ALP joining the ANP, security will improve and the police force will be stronger than before in fighting international terrorists, said Col. Sher Aqa Alokozai, acting chief of Badghis Police.
"The Local Police first will go to the police recruitment centres to follow regular processing and then join the police force," he said.
"The ANP needs the Local Police, who have years of battlefield experience, and warmly welcomes them."
After joining the ANP, former ALP members will receive better resources to protect their areas and prevent the activities of the Taliban, Alokozai said.
Training, job opportunities
Based on the guidance of the Defence Ministry and the Interior Affairs Ministry, the process of integrating the ALP into the Local Army and ANP is under way, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for Herat Police.
"The Local Police have shown interest in joining the ANP, and once integrated into the ANP, they will be deployed in their areas with more weapons and military training," he said, adding that the ALP already has received military training in many districts.
In addition, the private sector in Herat Province has shown a willingness to help recruit members of the Local Police in their factories and businesses.
ALP members who need jobs can contact the employment and human resource departments of the Herat Chamber of Industries and Mines, where they will be given priority, said Hamidullah Khadem, director of the organisation.
"The Local Police have acted as a shield to defend the country and the people for years and made numerous sacrifices," he said. "The public will not forget the sacrifices of these brave men."
If ALP members are interested, they can become guards in factories and other businesses, Khadem said.
"Given their military experience, the Local Police can play a key role in maintaining the security of the private sector and investors," he said. "We are ready to recruit them into our workforce."
ALP members seeking jobs also may contact the Herat Department of Labour and Social Affairs to learn about job opportunities and vocational training, said Abdul Qayoum Afghan, director of the office.
"There is vocational training available in various fields that the Local Police soldiers can take," he said. "The department offers trainings in carpentry, blacksmithing, tailoring, and repair of vehicles and electronics."
This year, 3,000 unemployed men and women attended training courses, some of whom already have graduated and are employed, said Afghan. Others are still attending.
"After they complete the vocational training, we will help the Local Police members to find them jobs and provide them with tools for work," he said. "After they learn skills, it is impossible that they will remain unemployed."
Committed to defending Afghanistan
ALP members said they are ready to continue serving the country, whether by joining security forces or working in the private sector.
"The goal of the Local Police was to defend the country and fight terrorism," said Mohammad Musa, a member of the Local Police in Qadis District, Badghis Province. "It does not matter to us which security agency we work for, whether it be the Local Police, the ANA or the Local Army. Wherever we are, we serve our people and country."
Local Police will never give up the fight against the enemies of Afghanistan, he said.
It is an honour for every ALP member to work in the ANDSF and to defend Afghanistan and its people, said Abdul Jabar, another member of the ALP in Qadis District.
"It is true that the Local Police are being dissolved, but we are ready to serve in any security agency across the 24 provinces of Afghanistan," he said.
Fellow ALP member Mohammad Yaqoub, also of Qadis District, vowed to continue fighting terrorists no matter what branch of security he serves in.
"We want to join the ANP or the Local Army and fight the enemies of the country and the people stronger than before," he said. "We will not allow the terrorists to disrupt the security of Afghanistan."