by Sgt. Jessica Dahlberg
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (June 22, 2008) — The Heroes Program, an individual-recognition program for service members who have performed acts of bravery against insurgents and criminals, recently recognized Commander Mohammad Ahsraf, of the Afghan National Army’s 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps. Ashraf started his military career 22 years ago as a second lieutenant. He now controls the ANA in 10 provinces, where his innovative mind has come up with new ideas on how the ANA should work.
One of Ashraf’s ideas was to coordinate missions with the Afghanistan National Police to get them more involved. “I made it part of my standard operating procedure to make the Afghanistan National Police part of my missions,” said Ashraf. Ashraf created a Provincial Coordination Center in Laghman province. It was the first province where he tested his idea about the ANA and ANP working together.
Ashraf’s idea has spread throughout all the provinces he has worked within. In the Kapisa province, Ashraf and his friend of two years, Bakhtyar Padschagul, the Police Chief of the Nijrab District, worked together to make their province safer. “The ANA just helps support the ANP,” said Ashraf. “They have their own chain of command and system in place, we coordinate with the ANP to work together to make our province safer.” The ANP is responsible for the security of the district, and they ensure the safety and well-being of the district and people by holding checkpoints and conducting patrols around the villages, said Padschagul. While conducting these patrols, the ANA will secure the area, and then the ANP will be the ones who actually go in and search the houses.
The ANA and ANP in the Nijrab District meet often to coordinate and plan missions together for their joint team. Along with his innovative ideas, Ashraf shows his bravery just by showing up to work everyday. He has had Taliban leaders try to murder him because of what he is doing for his country. However, Ashraf does not fear the threats on his life because he puts his trust in his soldiers. “They are like my family members, and they take care of me and protect me just as I do for them,” said Ashraf.
The love that Ashraf and his soldiers have for each other is what makes the 201st Corps so successful. “When the enemy comes up against Ashraf and his men, they either run or die,” said Marine Capt. Jesse Melton. Ashraf is a brave and courageous man, and in every province he has worked in, no one has ever been unhappy with his work. He takes care of his soldiers and his people by fighting every day despite Taliban threats.
Bakhtyar Padschagul, left, Nijrab District police cheif, and Commander Mohammad Ashraf, commander, Afghan National Army 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, shake hands at Forward Operating Base Morales-Frazier in the Nijrab District, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, June 20. Padschagul and Ashraf are known throughout Nijrab for working together to bring stability and security to the people of the district. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg).