Brian Johnston: “Their passion is my passion”
Kabul, 31 March, 2012: Brian Johnston knows exactly why he is motivated to work in Afghanistan: “I really am inspired to do what is right for the Afghan National Police and ultimately, the Afghan people.” The 45 year old Detective Chief Superintendent from the United Kingdom was recently assigned as the Director of EUPOL’s new Training Component. His aim is to establish the Police Staff College as an Afghan-led centre of excellence for police leadership development.
Brian is extremely passionate about his work, having arrived in Afghanistan in February 2010 to start as Senior Police Advisor for Regional Command South. Although Brian has extensive international working experience as a police officer in Kosovo and Darfur, he was excited by the amount of work ahead of him: “I don’t think anything can prepare you for the full extent of the challenges of working here.” After six months in the South, he was redeployed to Kabul first as the Project Lead Officer for the Police Staff College Project and then as the Head of the EUPOL Training Centre Development Department (ETCDD).
For Brian, his new job is “challenging and demanding, however the rewards and the positive outcomes are now becoming more evident and make it all worthwhile”. EUPOL’s Training Component is seeing real progress. “One of the ironic challenges that I face and have to manage is that we have through our endeavour and accomplishments become victims of our own success”, from a very humble start with a limited number of students we really are now giving the Afghan National Police the professional development it needs and wants. Capacity has become an issue despite the numbers who have already been through our various development programs but we know that our new purpose built facility will address this”, says Brian.
One of the successes is the introduction of a District Commanders’ Course and then quite literally invite District Commanders from throughout Afghanistan to attend the course at the Staff College in Kabul. “By European standards, this would be a monumental task of itself. However, given the complexity of facilitating this in Afghanistan despite the challenges of having to maintain the balance between leadership development and operational resilience – we have succeeded in our objective”, says Brian.
He has developed a very close professional relationship with the Commander of the Afghan National Police Training General Command and a number of other senior figures within the Ministry of Interior. “Their passion is my passion and I am determined to do everything I can possibly can to enable and empower the ANP to realise that ambition and become the police service that I know it can be and that we all want to see”, says Brian. “I have a profound respect for the leaders of the ANP who really do have a vision and want to make a difference by transforming the organisation.” He is also convinced that the strategic command of the ANP wants a police service that is as professional, effective and responsive as the police organisations in Europe.
The training being delivered at the Staff College will help the ANP to achieve this ambitious goal. In Brian’s view, EUPOL has to “ensure that it does not only establish the foundations of the Staff College but look ahead to 2014 and beyond to make it an enduring national institution.” He is convinced that it will come to represent more than a training development facility. “The objective is to make it a national, if not regional centre of excellence for police leadership development.”
To make an Afghan-led enduring institution happen, EUPOL is developing the Afghan capacity to develop themselves, says Brian. “Afghan colleagues are already delivering leadership training and as time progresses EUPOL will expand its involvement as it develops the capability and capacity of the Afghans to take the lead. This will necessarily be a continuing focus for the mission in the period post 2014.”