Life in Paind Kalay police station

Lt Matt Galante is an officer in The 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.  He commands a Police Advisory Team (PAT) in Southern Nahr-e-Saraj district, Helmand province. This is Matt’s second tour of Afghanistan.

Lt Matt Galante at Paind Kalay police station with Husky vehicle in background

Lt Matt Galante at Paind Kalay police station with Husky vehicle in background

Cheeky kids

I thought I would use blog number two as a chance to explain where I am currently living and what my day to day routine is – needless to say it’s a pretty big shift from my university days in Leeds or my current ‘home’ in Paderborn, Germany.

My team of 16 are based in the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) station in Paind Kalay, a village in the centre of Nahr-e-Saraj district, Helmand province. The ‘Kalay’ (Pashtun for ‘village’) is sandwiched between the river Helmand and the Nahr-e-Bugra canal, with an open desert to the North that provides a home for nomadic tribes – and an enormous amount of camels.

Paind Kalay is a maze of mud compounds, hardened by years of blazing sun, and is mostly inhabited by cheeky kids and old farmers with prune-like skin and about ten teeth between the whole community. The farmers tend to their crops in irrigated fields to our South, which makes up the now-infamous Green Zone: a jungle of dense trees and head-high cornfields which make movement an exhausting prospect. The insurgents know that our surveillance systems can’t pick up a lone gunman or IED-layer in the middle of a 10-foot high maize field, so this is where we tend to find the majority of our trouble.

Police advisory team playing football with AUP inside Paind Kalay Police station

Police advisory team playing football with AUP inside Paind Kalay Police station

Moz Waz

The police station itself is relative luxury in comparison to most of the Kalay. It is one of only two concrete buildings in about 20 square KM, and in typical squaddie resourcefulness it now boasts a well-stocked gym, a temperamental Afghan generator which powers a fridge, a gas stove and a dart board! My team live on one side of the compound, and on the other lives our colleagues for the tour: the AUP.

Mohammed Wali with local man at Paind Kalay police station

Mohammed Wali with local man at Paind Kalay police station

Paind Kalay police station is the headquarters for the AUP in our area, and is headed up by the charismatic and highly regarded Lieutenant Mohammad Wali. “Moz Waz” (as he is affectionately known) is somewhat of a local celebrity due to his work in creating a secure environment free from corruption and Taliban influence.

He is only in his late twenties but holds considerable sway among the local Elders and Mullahs, who all respect the good work he has done. Moz Waz is an affable chap, sometimes a little shy and bemused by all the interest in his work, and he has an amusingly short attention span, but he is a fantastic ambassador for the AUP in the area and will do anything for the men under his command.

Patrolling in Paind Kalay

Patrolling in Paind Kalay

The men in question are some 100 patrolmen from the local area, working and living in 11 checkpoints across a 10km stretch. These checkpoints vary in size, location and construction, but all are the ‘front line’ in the battle for security in Nahr-e-Saraj – a battle they are fortunately winning. The AUP in these checkpoints are largely a great bunch, all extremely welcoming of the British and united in their battle for what they see as their own homes and villages. There are some real characters in these checkpoints, and very few visits to these locations pass without plenty of ‘Chai’ (Afghan tea) and laughter.

Genuinely impressed

So where do me and my team fit in? Well, our task as part of the Police Mentoring Advisory Group – or PMAG – is to act as the first line of ISAF support for these checkpoints. We visit each location to teach policing and soldiering skills, help solve any issues they may have, and join them on joint patrols around their Kalays. Our tour is still in its infancy, but I have been genuinely impressed with some of the AUP we have worked with so far – not least because of the amount of brews and food they seem to be throwing my way when we visit! There are few better feelings than getting to a checkpoint after a long patrol with heavy kit to have a pot of Chai waiting for you. Well, a beer would be nicer but that will have to wait until post-tour leave.

I’ll try to talk about some of our patrols and the characters we meet in my next update – in the meantime I’ve got some sleep to catch up on…

15 thoughts on “Life in Paind Kalay police station

  1. So glad there are people like you out there. People who care about what they are doing and realise that it is them that can make a difference. Good luck to you and all your comrades who are protecting people lie us back home. Thank you.

    Like

  2. Thank you Matt for a lovely informative article. I hope your comment about ‘Moz Waz’ and his ‘amusingly short attention span’ is just a touch tongue in cheek.

    Well done to you and all your blokes and come home safe.

    Best wishes

    Nigel

    Like

  3. Another view of what you are doing day to day. We are not just proud of you (which I think you know by now) but all of our troops out there at the moment. Keep safe each and everyone of you and come home soon.

    Already looking forward to your 3rd installment. Take care

    Luv Mum and Dad x

    Like

  4. This is so weird to see – I can’t believe it’s really you! But as ever, a fascinating read.
    So proud of everything you’re doing out there – thought about you all many times this weekend, but of course thinking of you always.
    As ever, take care, stay safe and be good.
    Looking forward to the next post!
    Em x

    Like

  5. Not sure if you have my Danwamish with you, if you do please keep him safe, if you dont have him with you, then please keep everyone else safe and yourself. We are all thinking of all of you, and the wonderful and brave jobs you are doing out there.
    REMEMBER: STAY LOW, MOVE FAST, STAY SAFE. 🙂

    Like

  6. fortunately, there are well respected people in afghan like these men, who WANT the security for their people. well done, matt, for this. keep the faith.

    Like

  7. A.M. News Links: Historic engine parts, a historic battle, train engine sets fires
    These are Cleveland,Ohio..Plain Dealer “Headlines”.

    Like

  8. good luck to all are brave soldiers out there your all doing a fantastic job out there STAYSAFE OUT THERE HEADS DOWN AND RUN FAST SAFE JOURNEY HOME X

    Like

  9. Great article Matt, I stumbled upon it this evening – suddenly there you were staring back at me!! Fantastic job, keep safe. Oh, and say hi to Arran from us next time you two catch-up!! Dawn & Trevor

    Like

  10. What a lovely read Matt, you sound very mature and sophisticated. You look good in your uniform in front of your big truck. I’d let you take me for a ride 😉
    Stay safe and will look out for you in germany 😀

    Like

  11. I think you will find that the amusingly short attention span of ‘Moz Waz’ is due to Matt being I believe his 8th ISAF mentor at the very least. Mohammed Wali has see them all come and go while he carries on in post and does grade them!

    Like

  12. can you please give me an different exercise for the cable rows? I’m unclear what it looks like (as the website isn’t functioning for me), but I don’t think we have that at our gym. I can do the cable pull down one, but not the rowing. As I said, it’s a very tiny, thrown together gym. LOL!

    Like

Comments are closed.