Training Afghan Police Remains Biggest Challenge

American soldiers in Afghanistan have the daunting job of training new Afghan police officers in one of the world's toughest neighborhoods - Kandahar, in the heart of Taliban country. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark is there.

There's one thing you don't often see on the streets of Afghanistan's second largest city: a police officer. Kandahar is not only the spiritual home of the Taliban, but also a lawless free-for-all.

Hundreds of American military police soldiers are now patrolling these streets, but their real mission is to help build an Afghan police force capable of doing the job - and they have a long way to go.

It starts with the basics: how to walk in formation, how to carry a weapon, how to make your presence known to the people you are there to protect.

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Officers are stationed in tiny outposts along an area known as the "Taliban highway." If they are going to hold this area on their own against an enemy that uses roadside bombs and sophisticated ambushes, they have a lot to learn.

Constable Bill Vollmar, from the Toronto police, is here to teach them the basics

For the last year, Vollmar has been teaching as many Afghan officers as he could reach.

"From searching people and stopping car we're just trying get the basics and keep them alive," Vollmar said.

But things are never simple here. Bad pay and bad equipment contribute to an alarming drop-out rate. The use of drugs is so widespread that officers who merely test positive for smoking hashish are warned, but not fired.

For now, the MPs are the only thing that's keeping their Afghan partners alive. But they won't be here forever.

"The army can't hold a country. They're there to protect it from people invading and such," Vollmar said. "The police are the, as they call it, the thin blue line."

Too thin. The U.S. has American soldiers posted to every police station in Kandahar. They can only start pulling out once these Afghan cops are able to hold the line - on their own.

Special Section: Afghanistan | The Road Ahead

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